Professional Network Connections

Making Professional Connections

Being over 50, you've had a long career of building many professional network connections...getting hired through your extensive professional contacts is one of the best ways to get a new job. Employers love referrals because the applicant will have insight into the company before they apply, and many companies have referral programs to encourage employees to recommend candidates, plus it will save a company thousands of dollars of recruitment costs.

There are basically two types of connections you've built during your career.

Professional connections that include people you’ve worked with, such as clients, vendors, colleagues, and may peers who work in your industry.

Personal connections which include family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and random people you end up chatting with about your career (that person your sitting next to at your next doctor appointment, could become your next key connection -- one that could get you hired!

There are other professional network connections that cross categories, like alumni from your university, your bowling club, or professional organizations and all the contacts you have in your life can help you get hired.

Online job searching and networking do work, but remember that it’s people who hire people.

Using Your Professional Network Connections to Help Get Hired

Your personal network connections can provide a goldmine of career opportunities, and having such a long career, your at an advantage over younger job seekers.  Many people have been hired because of someone they stood next to in a line at the airport, sat next to on their commute into work, or because the other mom you were chatting with at school pick-up knew of a perfect position that had just opened up.

You never know who might be able to help.

Just think of all the places you go where you might run into someone who could be the key to your next job:

  1. Gyms
  2. Co-working spaces
  3. Parties
  4. Dog parks/ walking the dog
  5. Sporting events
  6. Special events (extended family gatherings like weddings etc.)
  7. Airports, train stations and car share rides
  8. Cafes, coffee shops, bars and clubs and concerts
  9. Classes, seminars and library groups
  10. School functions
  11. Volunteering
  12. Hobbies

Watch your social media feeds, too. Your friends may post job openings at their employer or other positions they come across. They can help you expand your professional network connectionsDo remember to be respectful and careful about inquiring, and do it via private message rather than replying to a public post.

It’s never a good idea to advertise the fact that you’re job searching unless you’re out of work and want the world to be aware -- otherwise your current employer may find out that your looking and that is not good.

The Best Way to Connect in Person

What’s the best way to connect? It can be uncomfortable to meet with your contacts, at first, if you’re not an outgoing person -- especially if you haven't spoken to them in awhile or they are new to you. These networking tips for introverts will help you get started, and help you build professional network connections.

The more you do it, the easier it will become. After the first few times, it may even seem easy.

Devora Zack, author of "Networking for People Who Hate Networking, Second Edition: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed, and the Underconnected", who has written many books on the subject and is an expert on helping people start conversations.  In this book, Zack politely examines and then smashes to tiny fragments the “dusty old rules” of standard networking advice.

She shows how the very traits that make many people hate networking can be harnessed to forge an approach more effective and user-friendly than traditional techniques. This edition adds new material on applying networking principles in personal situations, handling interview questions, following up—what do you do with all those business cards?—and more.

Always Be Prepared...

...because at some point, the conversation will turn to you, and you don't want to sound awkward or forced. 

Talk about your work and what you’re interested in doing next in your career.  Have that elevator pitch ready to draw a quick summary of your background and experiences.

Have your contact information ready to share on your phone.  A business card with your email address, phone number, and LinkedIn profile URL is another way to easily share the details. 

Making it easy for people to get in touch with you will up your chances of getting job leads.

Keep in Touch With Your Professional Connections

In addition to building your personal network, don’t lose sight of your professional network connections. It’s almost too easy to stay connected on LinkedIn, social media messaging, and email. They work, of course, but if you’re in close proximity to your professional contacts a chat over a cup of coffee works better -- networking in person is one of the best ways to engage and get that person interested in you.

If that person can benefit from something you can help with...ALWAYS offer your advice and assistance. People are much more willing to help someone who has helped them.

Take the time, as well, to attend career networking events. As with one-on-one networking, the more events you go to, the more chances you’ll have to boost your career.

What's on your mind? Is there something specific I can help you with?

This site's success will hinge on me helping you solve problems. For those of us over 50, we face more challenges than others younger than us when competing for jobs and getting doors to open.

I invite you all to share your stories of challenge and successes. We all can learn from those who have faced the same challenges. The idea here is to help and be helped - so please add your comment or insight!

Thank you for your contribution.

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