An Overlooked Networking Opportunity for TwentySomethings: Former Classmates

Today, I created my own miniature High School reunion.

I searched Facebook for those who had graduated Lexington High School the same year as me. And I sent everyone with whom I was not already connected a Facebook friend request accompanied by a short note.

(As an early adopter, I connected to other LHS alumni when I first joined Facebook, but had since been reactive rather than proactive at connecting to my former classmates.)

I reached out to everyone I could remember from my middle school and high school years, regardless of whether our interactions had been frequent and friendly or casual and distant. Of course, there was part of me that felt like (pardon my colloquialism use) a HUGE TOOL. Would these people remember who I was? (They should – I’m a big deal!) Would they think my request came out of nowhere?

But in some ways, it doesn’t matter. I’ve been out of high school long enough that it’s hard to remember exactly the sort of relationship that I had with each of these people. Any ill-feelings or regrets have nicely faded into a simple nostalgia. Our senior year, my class really came together at a point; we were over the pre-defined cliques and categories that can so dictate high school. And now, these are people that, while they may not know the person I’ve become, will understand my history and where I come from.

And while seeing how everyone’s lives have changed can be entertaining, there was another benefit to having this self-created reunion. As someone completely immersed in Social Media (of which Social Networks are a subcategory), I know the golden rule:

IT’S THE DIVERSITY OF YOUR NETWORK,

NOT THE MASS, THAT DRIVES ITS POWER.

My former classmates have been a valuable untapped part of my network that I am now equipped to leverage in the future. While we were all a fairly homogenous group at one point, it’s now years later and we have relocated for college and then perhaps relocated again for employment… The spider web that comprises our collective contacts has grown in exponential numbers during these prime years. In fact, it probably will never grow at such a rapid rate as we begin to settle down and our lives become increasingly stable.

So by reaching out to even one person from high school who has gone in a completely different direction than me (both literally and figuratively) I’m able to extend my network in a way that’s simply not possible if I just connect to people in my current social circle.

I urge you to think about creating your individual high school reunion. The next time you look to your network for help, you’ll be glad you did.

  • http://www.theyoungpro.com Tom Wall

    Julie,

    I love your blog, and really enjoyed this post. I recently read an article arguing that high school reunions are dying because of Facebook (I don’t agree). I personally plan on using facebook to plan my reunion next year, and use it all the time to communicate with people I would have lost long ago.