It’s not too early to teach your teen the art of social networking. Actively building and nurturing a social network based on trust and mutual support can help them in every aspect of life — from homework to landing a job to making new friends.
First, help them identify the areas of life in which they’d like to grow. If you need guidance, check out Stop Spinning Your Wheels for the Wheel of Life printable with 8 key life categories.
Next, emcourage them to jot down their dreams in each category. You’ll need to know their goals in order to c0-create a network that supports them. Sprinkle in some opportunities to broaden their horizons, too, which is also key to personal growth.
Now you’re both ready to think about the people in their network. Start with the most important and time-sensitive life category, and help your teen develop a list of people for that. For instance, do they need a summer job? Do they need help figuring out which college to apply to? Friends of yours, family, parents of your teen’s friends, neighbors, coaches … they are all people who can help. Don’t be afraid to include casual acquaintances, too!
When your teen lists possible contacts, ask them to include notes on how each person could positively influence them now or in the future. If they can’t think of something specific or urgent, they can think big picture about that person’s skills or network. For example, do they work in a field you’re interested in? If so, maybe you can ask to intern or shadow them.
Once your teen is done, it’s time to organize the info in a digital contacts app or on paper. (You can use this contact information printable to DIY a contact binder.) Ask your teen to include email, phone, address, personal details, and how the individual can help them. It’s amazing to watch contact details grow as the relationships deepen.
Your teen is all set. Now, they can reach out in the way they feel most comfortable – email is often a great start. If that’s a struggle, they can use the compliment sandwich: one paragraph that details what they admire about the person, one paragraph with their request, and one paragraph that re-states the compliment differently along with a thank you.