There are essential things to keep in mind when networking for an encore career. Most jobs come from people we know—loose ties, not close ties.
- So when it comes to networking, many things are exactly the same as they've always been. And you probably have intuition about how to network, and one of the advantages you have is that you've collected a lot of people in your life. Now, a few things are different. And the things that are different are mostly have to do with two areas. One is the way that technology has changed the way we network, and LinkedIn is the perfect embodiment of that.
So it used to be that we asked around because we wanted to learn not only the people we knew, but also we wanted to learn about the people that are known to the people we know. So that concept of second and third connections is something that is built right in to LinkedIn. So in LinkedIn, we have this opportunity to connect to all the people we know. Those are our first-degree connections. But we can immediately see out to the next level, which is something you never were able to do. So there's a way in which networking right now is much easier than it's ever been because we have access to all of this information about our network in a very visible way.
The other way that networking is very different than what it used to be is that we have to network across many generations. Okay, so we all have had this experience at your first job, maybe a teacher or a mentor, someone older than you, a parent helped make some introductions. That may not happen for you anymore, or it may not happen in the same way. What is different is that people younger than you might be very valuable to the search for your encore. It could be kids if you have them. It could be your mentees or your grown students who are now out in the world working in a field that you might be interested in entering.
So we really have to think about intergenerational networking as a big part of what you're doing here. So let's talk about the things that haven't changed at all, and they're really basic principles to keep in mind any time you're forming relationships that are going to help you in your transition. So the first one is to build your network before you need it. So we all know that awkward feeling of going to ask someone for help if it's the only time you've been in touch with them for years. And this is where social media is really helpful.
If you have connections in place and you've made those connections online, on LinkedIn or Facebook or wherever else you hang out online, you can be in soft communication with many, many, many, many people by paying attention to what's happening in their life, giving a little like here and there, knowing that somebody just had a grandchild or someone just retired. Those are ways that in the background you're taking in all that information. And you're lightly in touch so that when you go to someone, it's not going to feel like you haven't been in touch for 15 years.
So that's a way that this technology has actually made it much, much easier to reach out to people that we're not regularly in touch with. The other thing that is a principle that has never changed is that when you're asking for introductions or help with your transition, you got to make it easy for the other person. So the two main ways I think about doing that are to not take up too much time, to be focused on what you want, and to give people tools that will help them. So one of my favorite tools is the forwardable email.
So next time you're asking for a favor or you're asking for an introduction, don't just say, are you willing to help me introduce? I see that you know Marci who works at Encore. Are you willing to make an introduction to Marci? Instead say, I hope you'd be willing to make this introduction. And if so, I've included an email you could forward below. I've included a link to my LinkedIn profile and my latest slide deck that I want you to take a look at. The other principle that we should always keep in mind when networking it really has to be about what you can offer in the world.
How can you help others? And that comes to a little reframing trick I want to give you. Next time you need something, try not to focus so much on the favor you're asking of someone else or the need that you have, which could often make you feel very vulnerable. But think about it this way. If you're a really good fit for an opportunity, whether it's a job or a volunteer role or a board position, and you're offering yourself up and asking someone to make that introduction, they could be doing an organization a great favor by making that introduction for you.
So I hope that's something to keep in your head that can make you feel a little better that you're not always on the receiving end, because sometimes by asking someone to make an introduction, you're actually helping.
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