Today I Learned...
he work world is changing, and there are many advantages to being an older employee. You have more experience and maturity than the average person. But the truth is, you might still feel like a fish out of water in a sea of millennials.
If you’re looking for ways to connect with potential colleagues or clients, here are some networking tips that can help:
1. Do your homework and be prepared
Networking is more than introducing yourself to hiring professionals. You can impress employers by showing that you've done your research on them. Investing time in a conversation shows that you are genuinely interested, and this will help build rapport.
What kind of information is good to know ahead of time? First, decide on the specifics about the kind of job you want. Ask yourself:
- Do you have experiences or skills that you could use at your next job?
- Do you want to work part-time or full-time?
- How far are you willing to commute?
Thinking ahead about these details can help you talk about your employment goals while networking.
It is important to know the people you are networking with. For example, if a professional meeting is being hosted by a certain company, find out more about that company beforehand so that you can intelligently discuss its products or services when appropriate. This shows that you are interested in working with this organization and being a part of their team. If they give you an interview, it will be easier to answer tough questions because you've already experienced them while researching the company.
2. Promote your best qualities
Being positive and enthusiastic about networking is crucial for increasing your chances of finding a job. Don't be intimidated by what you don’t know—instead, focus on your unique experiences that make you well qualified to do the work.
Don’t let your age be a barrier to getting hired. Employers will often see an older applicant as wiser and more stable than younger candidates, who may lack the maturity or experience necessary for many jobs.
Remember that networking is a two-way street. The conversation should not just focus on you—listen and take note of what others say, look for opportunities to connect with people who want to hire someone like you.
3. Use your contacts and resources
If you are an older job seeker, your pool of contacts is likely to be larger than someone starting out. Your immediate circle might not have the connections that would land you a job right away, but they could introduce you to people who do
Reach out to friends, family members, and former co-workers to see who is hiring. Be sure to emphasize your strengths, not your weaknesses.
When talking about yourself, focus on what you can do and why that makes you a good candidate—not how lacking or unqualified you might be for the position.
4. Leverage the internet
Over the years, networking has changed. Today, many of your professional interactions take place online.
If you're not actively engaged in social networks like LinkedIn, you are missing out on opportunities—including job openings.
LinkedIn is an online professional network that connects employers to job seekers and employees. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account yet, create one as soon as possible. The more complete your profile is (with current information), the better off it will be in helping you get noticed by recruiters or potential employers. By joining Groups, sharing content on LinkedIn and communicating with recruiters, you can build your network and eventually find the right job.
5. Don’t be afraid to take risks
Networking is all about taking risks. You have to be willing to put yourself out there. If you want to expand your network and make new connections, you have to be willing to take some chances.
If that means talking with strangers at a networking event, then do it! If it means making a cold call or sending an email introducing yourself, then do it!
Taking risks will help you build confidence in yourself. The most important thing to remember when it comes to networking is that it’s never too late to start.