Why the bedroom-bred generation need a crash course in connection

‘Old-school’ networking remains invaluable, and a ‘101’ for young professionals is essential, says Julietta Dexter, co-founder and chief growth and purpose officer at ScienceMagic

Julietta Dexter

Co-founder and Chief Growth and Purpose Officer ScienceMagic


I’m not a fan of the word ‘networking’. It often implies a self-serving agenda, lacking genuine interest in others and coming across as insincere, rather than being approached with nuance, consideration, and intellect.

For me, it’s about being interested in other people and wanting to know about them and their views, to make a genuine connection and, ultimately, connect to your community.

Call it what you will, the art of making and maintaining business relationships has undergone a seismic shift, and nowhere is this more apparent than amongst a generation of young professionals who launched their careers from their bedrooms.

Those entering the industry in the last three to four years, accustomed to Zoom meetings, Webex and messenger apps, can expertly craft the perfect email, tweet compelling insights, and engage on LinkedIn like second nature.

But face-to-face interactions? My observation is that these in-person encounters, the backbone of traditional networking, can feel foreign, even intimidating, and leave them floundering. And given the post-pandemic shift in how we work, is it any wonder?

As much as we live and work in a digital, virtual world, human connection is still at the heart of business.

Julietta Dexter, Co-founder and Chief Growth and Purpose Officer, ScienceMagic

So, while the industry has certainly returned to pre-pandemic socialising at world-leading events both at home and abroad, the reality is that they are attended by a generation already convinced that old-school networking still matters.

And it does matter. Creating a network is a vital business skill, in any industry.

As much as we live and work in a digital, virtual world, human connection is still at the heart of business. Genuine relationships—the kind forged over shared experiences, in-person meetings, and spontaneous conversations—often pave the way for unexpected opportunities and collaborations.

Digital communication can't fully replicate the authenticity and spontaneity of in-person interactions. And for those at the start of their career, it’s even more important to expand their influence beyond their immediate circles. It can lead to introductions to industry influencers, potential clients, mentors, and collaborators, enriching their professional journey in unexpected ways.

Unfortunately, the opportunities to have these in-person experiences at some of the preeminent events and festivals are not as accessible to those who need the exposure the most – something that the industry community is making inroads to address. There are of course other avenues, such as WACL’s awards for young leaders and Bloom's mentor programs. Moreover, employers can help bridge this gap by providing training and creating opportunities for in-person networking.

It’s one of the reasons that new talent coming through the door at ScienceMagic will hear me talk about the opportunity to combine their digital prowess with traditional networking skills, to navigate and conquer the hybrid networking landscape.

Business etiquette, such as presenting a business card or nailing the first handshake, can feel antiquated to the digital native, but they are still essential. Furthermore, mastering the art of small talk, navigating a room full of strangers, and understanding when to listen and when to pitch—are skills that need to be developed for the networking resurgence.

As someone who launched a business in the 90’s aged 26, with £600, building my community and making genuine connections was what led to success. Despite the business world’s adoption of remote working, these principles have not fundamentally changed.

It’s as accurate today as it was then that a large percentage of our client engagements are through existing relationships. Creating trusted, loyal, and often long-lasting relationships makes work enjoyable. That creates community. We build community together. We feed off each other, we are more creative together, and we learn more quickly together.

There is no doubt at all that those who are coming into the workplace want to interact. Make friends, understand culture, get out of their bedrooms and go somewhere. Meet new people, learn new things, earn a living and enjoy their social and working lives.

And it’s not just for our youngest recruits. I learn something new every day by being with my growing community, not just in meetings but in simple exchanges and conversations.

We must be mindful to create spontaneous moments to interact, share, talk, laugh, and debate, and today’s business leaders have to be able to arm talent with a ‘Networking 101’ to facilitate those chance moments of serendipitous communication.

Guest Author

Julietta Dexter

Co-founder and Chief Growth and Purpose Officer ScienceMagic


Julietta is co-founder and chief growth and purpose officer of ScienceMagic, a strategic and creative company founded in 2020, that exists to connect brands and talent to their communities by combining the power of strategic science, creative magic and digital experience. The company's clients include eBay, Brompton, Veuve Clicquot, Genesis and Glossier. Julietta’s passion is to build businesses that matter in a better world, tackling the tension between making money and doing good, while making sure commercial success sits within the context of cultural relevance. Prior to launching ScienceMagic, Julietta founded The Communications Store at the age of 26. TCS was one of the UK’s leading strategic brand development and communications partners to the world’s best brands including Versace, Charlotte Tilbury and Regent Street. Over the course of 25 years, as CEO, Julietta steadily expanded the company both in terms of staff and client portfolio while remaining ever faithful to the ethos and values of honest business delivery.

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