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Three Business Skills Generation Next Can Teach Us Today

The newest generation to enter the work force, Generation Next, is the first truly digital generation—people raised and educated using digital media and the Internet as an integral part of their basic thinking. Generation Next has learned to use simulated environments, virtual spaces, teleconferences, text messaging, and myriad other technologies individually and in combination.

Generation Next does not measure success by the same benchmarks as their predecessors. Success in the next phase of the digital age will require that business adopt the same benchmarks as the multitasking digital natives who will dominate that new frontier. Knowing these benchmarks, and how to achieve them, are three of the business skills Generation Next can teach business today.

Social Networking—Seeing Is Believing

One of the major differences between Generation Next and their predecessors is that the relationships adeptly built in the virtual space transfer seamlessly into the physical and business worlds. Generation Next uses text messaging, email, and online social networking sites to stay in constant contact with their online friends. These communiqués are brief and often deal with seemingly unimportant information such as “what’s for lunch” and “out walking the dog” yet it is this level of personal revelation that promote the friendships that later become referrals and other types of business.

Lesson 1: It’s All About Relationships

Generation Next is all about relationships. Given the choice between a product or service provider that is better and one that is more personable, Generation Next will choose the more personable every time.

The best online social networkers have discovered that effective online social networking requires between seven and ten hours per week. Single-taskers have traditionally dedicated two hours per business day to social networking. Generation Next multitaskers have found short networking periods to be far more personal and thus far more efficient.

Tactic 1: Network Ten Hours Each Week

  • Keep an e-mail window open and respond quickly to networking opportunities.
  • Keep these contacts short and invite them to a more in-depth conversation later.
  • Take fifteen to thirty minutes each day to look for new network contacts through online interest groups,

Lesson 2: Keep Your Network “in the Loop”

Generation Next has taken social interest to the level of art form utilizing every technology to share the moment-to-moment “updates” of their lives. Social websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Plaxo provide the opportunity to share these “updates” directly with contacts and network members. The newest versions of these sites allow all three sites to receive “updates” from a single dispatch through the Twitter.com website. Other social websites such as LinkedIn have taken note of this important trend and have added the ability to incorporate such microblogs.

Tactic 2: Be Interesting to Your Network

  • Keep your social network profiles interesting with regular updates on projects, opportunities, triumphs, and even challenges.
  • Make your “Updates” valuable to your network.
  • Share lessons learned and problems to avoid through your “Updates.”

Lesson 3: Be a Real Person by Expressing Yourself

Self-expression sites such as YouTube, Flickr and SlideShare provide the personal and professional insights that members of Generation Next require to make personal connections. More than just a networking opportunity or multitasking project, these expression sites allow for not only the exhibit of projects and proposals but to showcase talents and triumphs. The major social websites have recognized the importance of self-expression sites to the digital generation. Generation Next knows that the best multitasking is actually retasking.

Tactic 3: Project a Well-Crafted and Genuine Image

  • Decorate your Social Networking Profiles as you would your home and office space, with favorite pictures and even music.
  • Display images of diplomas, awards, certificates, and even your children’s artwork; these say who you are and what you value.
  • Promote your projects, programs, and passions through video, slides, and other multimedia tools.

Unfortunately, those who were not weaned on the Internet and multiplayer simulation based role-playing video games will never master the art of multitasking. However, by applying the lessons and tactics of Generation Next, you can master their market and succeed in their digital world.