Making new friends is not easy, finding common ground and building conversation takes time and effort. Although some people do have the skillset to form new social connections, an added challenge would be conversing with someone much older or younger than you. The generational gap means two parties grew up with different trends, and even their ways of thinking might be inconceivable to each other. Therefore, in order to start a conversation with a younger classmate, it is first important to approach them with an open mind. Listed below are some networking tips to get along better with your younger classmates and blur the lines of generational differences.
1. Make an impression when introducing yourself
Making a good impression is the most important factor when introducing yourself. Research shows that people form a judgement about your personality anywhere between the first 33 and 100 milliseconds of meeting someone new. Although some consider this as being “shallow” there is actually justifiable reasoning behind this behaviour. When meeting someone for the first time, body language is king over the initial conversation. You would notice details like, if they were smiling, if there was eye contact, and if both parties were mirroring each other’s body language. If the answer is “yes” to all these details, then the person you are talking to is most likely interested in being friends. Pay extra attention to how you dress as well, as some people involuntarily base their first impressions of you simply on your appearance.
2. Get connected on social media
Social media today serves as a gateway to understanding people’s personalities and what makes them happy, passionate, angry, and so on. If approaching your classmates would seem too unnerving for you, replying to an Instagram story or their Snapchat is probably the next best thing. This way, when you meet your classmate, you can start a conversation relating to their story, and an acquaintance could potentially snowball into a genuine connection.
3. Join student communities and clubs
Excluding yourself from extracurricular activities at university can make you seem uninterested in getting to know your classmates. Being seen as mysterious is not necessarily a good thing. However, forcing yourself to do something you are not interested in can only make things worse. So take your time to find a community or club within your university that fits your interests. Joining a club you are passionate about is a great tip if you want to network with other students. Consider browsing through UNITAR International Universities’ wide range of clubs and communities to get yourself better integrated into the student life.
4. Develop talking points
Pick out topics that interest you or stories and situations you have experienced and turn them into talking points. People who seem to be good at social situations practise this talking skill in most social situations.
5. Be yourself
Most importantly, stay true to yourself and don’t try to impress your peers. Being yourself is the best guide you can follow. This way, you will attract like minded people, which can certainly make your university life a truly memorable one while making lifelong friends.
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