Tapping into Gen-Y, what’s in it for you?

There is a lot to be said for thought-leaders in any niche. They are everywhere. Some of them are self-proclaimed thought-leaders, but those people are easy to spot (hint, they might have “social media guru, expert, maven, ninja, etc” in their Twitter profile). There are people that are natural authorities on a lot of different topics. With Gen-Y, we’re pretty new to the scene so the list of thought-leaders is relatively short.

I guess the question is, why should you be paying attention to Gen-Y? For all you know, we’re overly-ambitious, self-serving and have a sense of entitlement that seeps from our pores. Or, if you’ve looked deeper into our community, past the stereotypes, you know that a lot of us are addicted to learning, giving back to the community, sharing with others, and being a part of a team. Of course there’s going to be a handful of bloggers in any niche that think the sun rises and sets with them. Again, read a little bit and you can weed them out.

But really, you should be paying attention to Gen-Y because we’re the next big thing. Soon enough, we’ll be the mommy bloggers, the influentials, the Chris Brogans of the world. We’ve got a voice, and though it isn’t on the map like the people listed above, it’s out there.

We’re out there, we have a lot of buying power because of our disposable income, and we have a lot to say.

And some of us are doing some very exciting things. For example, Ben Smithee started Spych Research, a market research firm, and his team did all of the research surrounding SXSW last year, and are on board to do it again this year. Jamie Varon started Shatterboxx media, a graphic/web design company that she can do from anywhere. She’s capitalizing on the “from anywhere” part and will be working from Italy soon. Jun Loayza started Viralogy.com, a site that demonstrates your social media rank. Ryan Paugh, in conjunction with Ryan Healy and Penelope Trunk, created Brazen Careerist, an incredible community highlighting some of the best and brightest minds of Gen-Y.

And there is something to be learned from Gen-Y. Though some small studies are showing that most of us aren’t as connected as you’d like to think, the ones that are, really are. So what’s in it for you? For those of us immersing ourselves in the social space, we have a lot to teach, and I’ll let you in on a little secret, we’re totally okay with teaching you about x, y or z. For the first time in a long time, the incoming generation is bringing more than just a college degree to the table. We’re bringing enthusiasm and a strong desire to learn. And, now, we can teach you something while you’re teaching us the ropes. It’s a win-win for all involved.

I’ve made the part about being willing to teach perfectly clear in my little intern world. I am here to help anyone and everyone understand anything they don’t currently understand about the space. It is, essentially, my job to make sure that you “get it”. Okay, so that’s more something I’ve lined up for myself as a goal that I want to achieve by the time my internship is up, but I really want to teach people about the part of this industry that gets me up in the morning. So this is your public, always open, very loud invitation. And the best part is, if I don’t know the answer, I know some very, very smart people that probably do (and there’s more where that came from). So we’ll help you figure it out. Consider me your liaison to the big brains upstairs.

What do you think? Is Gen-Y on the map? Who do you see as a thought-leader in the Gen-Y community? Who else is doing big things?