Last night I was part of a panel discussion for an event called The Power of Networks ran by the brilliant team at InvestIN Education. The event was for parents of children aged (on average) between 12 – 18 who wanted to learn about how they can support their children’s career prospects through effective networking.
Having just become a Mum for the first time in Aug 2019 I haven’t really given much thought to my daughters careers path just yet, her interests currently consist of Peter Rabbit, Baby Shark, and sticking things with glue. But last night’s event, which attracted over 1,700 parents from across the world, has highlighted the value of networking from an early age, and what we can be doing to support our kids.
To continue the conversation I thought I’d share my top 5 tips on how we can support our kids with effective networking techniques from any age, and what that could mean for their future career progression.
Encouraging our kids to explore interests and topics they are passionate about is a fantastic way for them to grow as people, and to connect with others who share their passions. Networking is all about building relationships, and a major part of that is trust. Engaging with other children who have the same interests helps our kids to build trust, and establish meaningful connections. It’s an amazing way for them to meet new people outside of their classroom bubble, learn new things, and explore new areas of interest.
Exploring opportunities outside of their immediate social circles is also a fantastic way for them to meet people from different backgrounds, cultures and locations. With the rise of virtual networking we can connect with people across the globe instantly, opening up new opportunities for our children to create positive connections. Creating a diverse network is important for communication skills, access to new knowledge, experiences, and gives them a wider perspective of the world. It can show them new ways of thinking, generate new ideas, and showcase that exciting new opportunities exist.
Meeting new people will give our children access to new areas of knowledge. Mentoring for example is a great way for young people to connect with someone who has real life experience in their field of interest, so they can learn and tap into invaluable experience and knowledge. I’m a mentor for The Girls’ Network which is an amazing mentoring scheme across the UK, but there are lots of others so take a look online and see if there’s any you and your child like the look of. The InvestIN internships are also a brilliant way to tap into real life industry specific knowledge, whilst networking with professionals and peers: thus allowing your child to build their own network through shared experience and professional interests.
Encouraging your child to utilise the internet in a positive way by creating their own content is a great way for them to learn new digital skills whilst simultaneously building their own online portfolio. As my fellow panellist, Mary Agbesanwa, pointed out at last night’s event, having an online presence is a great way for young people to stand out when applying for jobs or internships. It gives companies the opportunities to learn more about them, their interests, and their tone of voice. Creating online content can also be a great way for young people to find and connect with others who share their interest, again, building their network organically.
Above all else, teaching our children to be kind and respectful to others is without a doubt the most powerful networking tool they will ever need. Regardless of what industry they aspire to work in, or what job role they want to have, knowing how to work with others and build effective relationships will help them every step of the way. When we are kind to people, regardless of their status or job title, and give them the equal amount of time and respect, that is what will set us apart from others. That is what will open doors to us. That is why people will put us forward for opportunities and exciting new roles, because they like us and they genuinely want to help us. So the greatest thing we can do as parents to helps our kids network, is simply set an example for them and teach them to be kind.
I hope this helps some parents out there, we’re all just trying our best (especially at the moment!) and remember – you’re doing awesome!
For more on networking for career development (and entrepreneurship) take a look at a video we created for careers week 2021! Or for more general networking tips take a look at the rest of our Blogs, or we’ve got a library full of free 2 Min Networking Tip videos!