Young professionals, aspiring leaders and veteran young at heart all agree that opportunities to meaningfully network and connect outside of a 2×2 digital box have been limited over the past 18 months. Getting inspiration from other like-minded leaders, entrepreneurs, community and nonprofit leaders, and advocates remains essential for today’s workforce to stay engaged and connected.
The pandemic has made it a little easier to forge new relationships and alliances, collaborate on ideas and business ventures, and build stronger communities worldwide thanks to the virtual and hybrid nature of today’s world. As things slowly shift to the new hybrid normal, young and experienced employees are looking for ways to shoot back into the personal pool while navigating the virtual world. How you do that?
In transitioning our nonprofit’s signature event, the annual #MILLSUMMIT leadership and professional development conference, from an in-person to a virtual and now a hybrid event, we’ve learned a few things about how to make that leap, without necessarily losing sight of our vision goals.
For those of you with employees looking to make the jump back to in-person events or thinking about how best to engage with the millennial and Gen Z workforce, here are some lessons from our navigation playbook the pandemic.
Evaluate your community-based programming options
Host community-based programs and events that foster connections and provide affordable opportunities for aspiring leaders (millennials or otherwise), especially those that provide support and training on how to best use their time and talents to advance their careers and… to benefit the larger community. Whether you’re tuning in virtually or watching in person, it’s important to attend events that bring leaders together as they help nurture connections, spread ideas and inspire new ones. There are virtual and in-person events like this all over the world, and attending them can be as easy as clicking a button.
Identify strong coaches or leaders
Look for trainers or speakers who highlight the skills you want in your employees, or use a training methodology that sets goals similar to yours. It is always valuable to learn from others, especially those who have followed a similar path. There are many local, regional, national and international experts covering topics relevant to emerging leaders at all stages of their careers. I am somewhat biased but would suggest giving credit and taking a second look to those who have been labeled “too young” to lead but have nonetheless built strong and diverse coalitions and corporations. There are many great leaders under the proverbial radar working to address issues affecting their local communities, particularly around affordable housing, climate change and food insecurity, and sharing their stories helps inspire and motivate others to find and promote their purpose. The almost 100 speakers we have at #MILLSUMMIT this year are all worth considering depending on the topic you are interested in and they will all share their expertise over the three days of our conference in August. You can read more about it and the agenda at millsummit.com.
Strengthen your cheer group or network
Networking remains a crucial skill that can be both learned and constantly honed. Online networking is different from face-to-face networking, and yet both are important in today’s hybrid world. There are many workshops and speakers discussing strategies around networking and selectively seizing good opportunities. Even the most seasoned networking pros won’t want to miss the opportunity to engage with a variety of young, experienced and future leaders, so seize the networking opportunities when you get them.
Be camera ready with your personality
Whether you’re a Type-A or any other personality, bring it along! Online networking events and similar in-person opportunities help get business done. Most people would agree that great ideas and relationships sometimes emanate from chance encounters at conferences and lead to deeper, community-building relationships that bear fruit long after the snack line has gone. If you’re going to an in-person event, absorb as much as you can and set a goal to meet at least one person who you’ll keep in touch with afterwards. When you network online, you can always message someone who says something resonates and follow up by connecting with them on LinkedIn or via email.
This year’s #MILLSUMMIT will feature speakers and topics that will help provide insights and tips on how to be a top performer in 2022. Attendees can attend virtually from around the world August 2-4 or attend the in-person sessions at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware on August 3-4. For more information or to register, visit millsummit.com.
Charles Vincent is the executive director of Spur Impact, a Delaware nonprofit organization that hosts the annual #MILLSUMMIT leadership and professional development conference.