Networking is an important trait for most adults. Many companies look to their employees to know how to create and nurture affiliations in-service of the organization’s goals. Networking skills are used by leaders, trainers and managers across all industries. Learning how to communicate and build relationships is a skill that lasts forever. However, these social skills don’t just begin to develop after grade school.
Development of these traits begin early. Meeting new kids and wanting them to like you and having that need to be accepted is a common thread among school children (often with many bumps in the road). As a parent, it can be hard to watch your child coping with new social situations. One of the healthy ways that kids can find connections to others is through social groups and sports teams.
Sports such as softball and baseball establish a connection that lasts well into adulthood. It causes common ground over a shared interest. It also creates an easy talking point years later with others who have an interest in sports. Lessons in compassion, sportsmanship and hard work translate into adulthood. Working through overcoming struggles with a team is a positive start to building contacts. Having a common interest can give kids a jump-start to establishing a personal network. If the team does well, you get to travel and meet people beyond those in your high school. Beyond high school, graduates spread out to colleges near and far. Making face-to-face meaningful connections now increases the pool of people that a young adult can call upon when job searching or investigating life options.
These practices are the core of business networking and an important life skill. The best education opportunities are often introduced as a game, and learning comes naturally to children at play. I’m a strong advocate for parents to encourage their kids to try a sports team.