Millennials’ Professional Networking Behaviors

LinkedIn data shows conversations can lead to job opportunities

July 12, 2017

Millennials are already the largest generation in the workforce, making up more than one-third of those employed today. By 2020, they’ll grow to represent more than 50% of the workforce. Much has been written about this generation’s defining traits: purpose-driven, digitally-savvy, and extremely well-connected. But how connected are they really?

To understand professional networking behaviors, we conducted a survey among thousands of our members worldwide, including more than 7,000 millennials. Here’s what we discovered about the way millennials network (or don’t!), and what’s holding them back from reaching out to their contacts to progress their careers.

Stuck for words. Millennials are unsure of how to reconnect, or what to say when they do.

Like their parents and grandparents before them, millennials recognize the value of staying in touch with their professional network: 71% of agree that it’s an effective way to build and nurture relationships. Regardless, they find it more challenging than older generations to stay in touch: 43% of millennials find it difficult, compared to 31% of those older than 45.

So what’s holding millennials back? Interestingly, our data shows completely contrasting generational views. For all their perceived social prowess on and offline, their biggest challenges were not knowing what to say and uncertainty around how to get in touch. And despite living fast-paced lives, a lack of time was the least of millennials’ worries, while their older counterparts said it was their biggest challenge.

Don’t be shy: Use your network to find your way in.

Despite the barriers, more than half (55%) of millennials reach out to their network when they’re starting to think about their next opportunity. When they do tap their connections, many are rewarded: 56% of millennials were introduced to a new job through a casual conversation. Not bad for a shy bunch!

If you haven’t been in touch with someone in a long time, refresh their memory of when and where you connected. If possible, mention something you have in common, like if you went to the same university or worked at the same company.   

And if you don’t know who to reach out to, we make it easy for you. When you’re reviewing a job listing or company page, keep an eye on LinkedIn Messaging -- we surface people you know so you can get an in for your next opportunity.  

Whether you’re a wallflower or not, there’s never been a better time to reach out to your contacts and say hi. Our research tells us you won’t regret it and you may just find your way in to your next career opportunity!




The LinkedIn online survey was conducted February 6th - March 18th 2017 among 15,905 LinkedIn members across 17 countries.  This included more than 7,000 millennials (aged 18-34).