n article on Atlantic titled “Are College Students Partying Less?” grabbed my attention. This article focuses on a national survey that suggests young adults are spending more time on social media and less time with friends. By surveying more than 150,000 freshmen at 227 four-year colleges in the United States, researchers found that time spent socializing hit an all-time low. This is not good news for students who aspire to become entrepreneurs.
We all know people skills are important. Every successful entrepreneur I interviewed told me so. But the question is how do you develop and strengthen your people skills?
There are many different ways. Aaron Rasmussen, the co-founder of MasterClass, recommended a fun method that college students would be happy to hear.
“ Go Party.”
“I was a 18-year-old sophomore. One day, we had this speaker come in to talk to my class. She was an executive at a local advertising agency. She said, ‘Look I’m going to tell you something that your professor might not appreciate. It is the thing that helped me the most in business, and I think it will help you too. Here it is: Go party. Super drunk is not going to be fun. What you should try to do is meet and connect with people. This is the skill that you’ll use in business very day.”
“I told myself challenge, accepted. As a Freshman in college I was shy. I didn’t enjoy parties — I was afraid that I wouldn’t fit in. So when I heard Aaron say this, my trajectory of personal growth — to party more — started to make more sense. I started to challenge myself to hang out with people, understand others’ perspectives, and learn more about them.”
“This is incredibly helpful because most people spend the majority of their day working with people, especially being an entrepreneur,” Aaron explained. “Whether people will follow your vision or cheat on you in a partnership all rely on your ability to connect and communicate with people. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to spend your free time socializing, even though normally people think that’s not right.”
In other words: practice your people skills at parties (and other places). And don’t get wasted.
Samuel Osei, the founder of an auto-repair company, shared a similar viewpoint. during our interview. Samuel believes that connecting with as many students as possible on campus is one of the best things an entrepreneurial student can do. In his words, “Network like crazy!” He even advocates for adding every student at your college to your social media. Why? Using his words, because a big following always helps.
It makes sense that a large network is especially helpful when starting a company. Samuel and many other entrepreneurs recommended to me that I should connect with people who are different than myself. Just ask people about their lives, talk to them, sit with someone during meal time. The benefit is you will start to look at life from different perspectives. College is probably a time that you will be surrounded by the widest range of diversity. Gaining a diverse perspective, and learning to think and experience from different viewpoints, is very beneficial.
In addition, Sam also thought that connecting with a large number of people is helpful for “finding talent.” Once you get to know a good number of people on campus, what they are like, and what they are good at, the people you know start to turn into valuable resources. You will know enough good people to start a team, an organization, or a company with. Have you ever had a hard time to put together a good team? I know I have. And this is something I need to improve for sure. I do have many good friends outside of school, but I need to connect with more people on campus.
In short, focus on building people skills is probably one of the best ways to prepare for entrepreneurship.