If you are between the ages of 12 and 32, you are what business executive, author, and speaker Don Tapscott calls the Net Generation (AKA the Millennials or Generation Y). You were born and raised in the digital age, “bathed in digital bits.” You are the first global generation. You demand freedom of choice and expression. You love to customize and personalize…everything. You are the new scrutinizers of products and promotions and corporate practices. You value integrity and transparency when considering purchases and employers. You want entertainment and play in your life…and education…and work. You are relationship-oriented – the true collaborators. You are all innovators in some way, shape, or form. And finally, you have a need for speed, so let’s get straight to the point.
While the Net Generation makes up about 27% of the U.S. population, Generation X and the Baby Boomers combine for a significant 38%. They are well-established in their careers and hold positions of power and authority. They are hard-working, independent, goal-oriented, and competitive. But most importantly, this group dominates the world’s largest web-based business network – LinkedIn.
LinkedIn’s membership is what Neilson Online is calling “The world’s largest audience of affluent, influential professionals.” Not only is the LinkedIn population highly educated (over 80% have bachelor or graduate degrees), but it’s also wealthy and successful. The average household income of the LinkedIn user is about $108,000 per year, and over 20% of LinkedIn users are senior level executives and managers. What’s more, over 60% are either decision makers in their companies or have direct influence over key decisions related to product or service purchases.
At this point, it’s apparent that LinkedIn has an older audience compared to sites like Facebook and MySpace (although Facebook’s audience is growing larger and older as we speak). As of summer 2009, the average LinkedIn user was 43 years of age.
While LinkedIn has proven its ability to help experienced professionals exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities, its potential in helping the Net Generation is clearly untapped. We found that, of the 70 million+ with profiles on LinkedIn, only a mere 4% are categorized as students. Best-selling author and publisher Melissa Giovagnoli wants to change that.
Teaming up with co-author and professional development consultant John Fowler, Melissa wrote Graduate to LinkedIn (@GradtoLinkedIn) specifically to educate college students and young professionals about the power of LinkedIn. The group that could benefit the most from this useful resource is the same one underutilizing it to the greatest degree. To John and Melissa, LinkedIn is the most powerful networking tool available, so why aren’t students capitalizing on this opportunity, especially before they complete their degrees and enter the world of work?
John and Melissa harmonize with Don Tapscott’s perspectives. The Net Generation should be embraced; not labeled as entitled, lazy, or disrespectful. This group is filled with technology-savvy, collaborative, and innovative people – they are social networking mavens with a passion for making a difference in the world. LinkedIn is an opportunity for these individuals to create access to the people who will play an integral role in their development as working professionals, leaders, and entrepreneurs. It will help bridge the gap between the sages of society and the leaders of tomorrow.
It’s time for college and graduate students to leverage existing social networking skills to find and connect with their future mentors and employers. It’s time to start building a career support network. It’s time to Graduate to LinkedIn.
The book Graduate to LinkedIn: Jump-start Your Careeer Support Network Now will be released in August 2010 by Networlding Publishing. You can also find authors Melissa Giovagnoli and John Fowler on Twitter via @networlding and @johnrayfowler.
* Information taken from: Tapscott, D. Grown Up Digital. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009.