We have all heard the phrase: “It’s all about who you know.” It’s a common expression that is especially important when it comes to business.

Networking plays a huge part in creating these connections. We rely on like-minded individuals in our personal lives and business relationships to help us achieve success.

Millennials are changing the way we network. While previous generations focused on the importance of work-life balance, the newer generation is taking a different approach. Work no longer begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.; it is ongoing and continuous. Millennials are integrating business networking into everyday social situations. Millennials desire a more casual way to mingle as professionals and entrepreneurs, and personal branding ensures that whomever they interact with, in any setting, is a reflection of their professional status without speaking directly of the career.

Networking is evolving from the strict, impersonal atmosphere of a corporate meeting room, gravitating instead toward social gatherings at trendy new restaurants over dinner and drinks. Conversation is comfortable rather than forced and professional. Supper clubs have been trending as the new networking hub. Supper Clubs were a great way to let loose and mingle with people who have the same drive and inspirational ideas, but also a way to familiarize yourself with a diverse group of people from different backgrounds in a more casual setting. These events bring together people of different professions to enjoy a complimentary meal and unlimited drinks from local distilleries or breweries.

MassMutual Insurance was so intrigued by the supper club concept that it developed a gathering of its own, called “Society of Grownups.” The Society focuses on Millennials who wish to know more about the importance of credit scores and planning for retirement, while masquerading as entertainment to make it interesting enough to hold their attention. Other businesses are pushing employees out of their comfort zones. FreshBooks, a Toronto Accounting Company, has been enforcing inter-office “blind dates” among employees. The idea around this is to set up employees from different departments within the company on lunch dates. This results in networking and collaborations between coworkers who may never even have spoken to one another—giving them the opportunity to widen their perspectives on the company, from the inside out.

With such innovative examples already leading the way, networking may be moving a more casual direction, with employees placed in comfortable environments, but challenged to get out of their comfort zones and multitask or integrate their work into everyday life situations.

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