Solving Hannah Horvath’s Motivational Puzzle: A New Phase of LinkedIn Connections

Apr 02

The motivational puzzle:  The millennial generation—the estimated 80 million young Americans ages 18 to 35—“are the most educated and culturally diverse of any generation before them, they’re also notorious job-hoppers who dislike bureaucracy and distrust traditional hierarchies—leaving many business leaders scratching their heads. What motivates this rising cohort? How do you keep them engaged, earn their trust, and get the most out of them?” asks a recent Forbes article. With such a large pool of generational influencers, their misunderstood purchasing behaviors and professional preferences will forever change the business landscape. But what makes them tick?

Think Girls (yes, the TV show). And think mentoring. “I think that I may be the voice of my generation—or, at least, a voice. Of a generation,” proclaims Hannah Horvath, the aspiring writer and protagonist of Lena Dunham’s HBO series, Girls, which just wrapped up its second season last week. Dunham has the ability to package the raw reality of today’s “Hipsturbia” world into something that people want to watch. It’s crude and intimate, embarrassing yet self-aware. But the 26-year-old executive producer, director, and star of her own hit TV show is also refreshingly honest. She tells the press and her fans alike, that her rise to fame and success was not a solo venture. She couldn’t have gotten where she is today without the mentorship and guidance of comedic film producer, Judd Apatow.

The Cast of Girls

Photo Credit: Mark Seliger/HBO

Working for a large global agency like Ogilvy, with more than 450 offices in 120 countries, I am lucky to experience the hierarchy of business and the culture of mentorship that nurtures young minds to become brand innovators and leaders. I’m also lucky to live in Washington, a city of people who have the experience and creativity to be great mentors—and are just waiting to be asked.

Could social mentoring be the next big thing? The digital consumers of the millennial generation have Facebook for keeping up with friends, Twitter for news, Instagram for photo sharing, and YouTube and Vine for video. But what’s the online equivalent of the profitable phenomenon of professional mentoring? Is this LinkedIn?

Everybody knows LinkedIn. It’s the social networking site for professional occupations. With more than 200 million members in over 200 countries and territories, LinkedIn touts that it is, “significantly ahead of its competitors Viadeo (50 million members) and XING (10 million members).”  But positioned against Facebook’s over 1 billion active users and Twitter’s over 500 million users, LinkedIn’s worldwide popularity pales in comparison.

What LinkedIn has going for it—its competitive edge—is that it is the leader in managing your professional identity online. So why aren’t companies and employees more socially engaged when it comes to LinkedIn?

The barrier lies in LinkedIn’s structure—a peer-to-peer connection network model that does not match the structure of a real-life business model. The results? “Manag[ing] your professional identity [on LinkedIn]…through building and engaging with your professional network” is a static and stale pursuit. What is valuable in the real-life professional environment is the access to great knowledge managers and the opportunity to create influential mentoring relationships between industry leaders, trusted counselors, and their eager mentorees.

This is the next space for digital connection. “You know that part on your résumé where they ask if you have any special skills?” Hannah Horvath confesses at the beginning of season two. “I don’t think I have any special skills.” Though Hannah feigns disinterest in fitting into the urban hierarchy for much of Girls’ first two seasons, she, like so many young adults, is plagued by the uncertainty of her own future professional status. Perhaps a social media-social mentoring extension of LinkedIn is what we need to keep Forbes’ job-hopper millennials engaged, motivated, and ultimately earn their trust in the business landscape.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013 at 5:29 pm and is filed under Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to “Solving Hannah Horvath’s Motivational Puzzle: A New Phase of LinkedIn Connections”

  1. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both educative and interesting, and
    let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is an issue that not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this during my search for something regarding this.

  2. Alex Ignatius says:

    Thanks for your interest, and I am so glad you enjoyed the post! It’s an interesting question, and definitely warrants some further exploration.