Everywhere you turn, someone new is discussing what millennials want or what millennials will do or what millennials think or blah blah blah.

closeup of the arm of a young man with the word millennials written in it, against the sky, with a filter effect

I’ve read a significant number of articles like that, and I’ve noticed a common theme:

They are almost always written by non-millennials.

Occasionally I will run across an article about millennials that is actually helpful. There is a perspective or insight that is interesting, and I leave it having learned something.

Unfortunately, the more common occurrence is that I read something that doesn’t sound anything like myself or any millennials I know. Why? Probably because the person who wrote it doesn’t actually know any millennials personally. Instead, they are likely trying to tap into the massive market that is Generation Y.

With millennials, as with most things in life, it goes back to that old saying:

It’s not what you know, but who you know.

Do not make the mistake of engaging those in Generation Y based on what you have read online. That rarely, if ever, works. No one likes to be approached through a filter, because typically that filter is wrong.

If you want to better engage millennials, then it’s best to drop any assumptions you may have based on an online article and actually get to some millennials personally. You will likely be surprised to find that they don’t fit the stereotypes you built in your mind.

We millennials are pretty keen at spotting generalized targets created for us and we also have a pretty sensitive bull meter, meaning that we can quickly figure out when you are full of it. That is a pretty effective way to ensure you completely isolate and disengage the group you so desperately want to reach.

And in some cases, it is the group that you desperately need to reach. Want longevity in your company? You need to successfully engage millennials as employees and customers. They are your future, so take it seriously.

So from now on, avoid the assumptions. Drop what you think you know, and begin building relationships with people from my generation. You will be pleasantly surprised with what you find, and you will quickly become far more effective at the reaching the one of the most powerful generations on the planet.

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