The Part of Networking Nobody Tells You About
Most of us don’t network as much as we should, some of us love it and networking becomes a way of life, and some of us just plain don’t (or won’t). In this day and age, business professionals clearly understand that networking should be part of their repertoire, but it’s hard to get started, and sometimes, we get so busy that we stop networking, or go through the motions with one small group of like-minded individuals who may or may not continue to be of value.
One of the consequences of not continuing to network on a regular basis is that we lose touch with people we have met and who were of value to you – or – you were no longer of value to them – because that’s what networking is all about.
And now, you are at a place in your career where some of those old contacts could be of significant value to you, but, you haven’t been in touch with them for a while. How do you go about re-connecting without sounding needy??
There’s a lot of good advice on the internet about how to make those re-connections. The most important piece is to ask yourself “What’s in it for them?” In other words, keep the first rule of networking firmly in mind – help the other guy first. Once you have determined that, a short email to the person you want to re-connect with is in order. While a phone call might be faster, it’s not giving them a chance to decide how to handle this blast from the past with no warning.
Since I don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel, I am going to pass on the very good advice I found in an article on www.ihire.com.
Acknowledge that you’ve fallen out of contact. You don’t need to make excuses for why you haven’t stayed in touch, but completely overlooking a time gap in your communication isn’t an option, either. Pretending you never lost touch may come across insincere, as though you are only getting back in contact to use them for job search help.
Keep it short and sweet. It’s a good idea to start slow when rekindling your professional relationship with someone. If they haven’t heard from you in a while, they’re unlikely to want to spend half an hour reading your life story of the past five years. Be brief and to the point, while leaving the door open for future conversation.
Consider your tone. The purpose of your networking email is for your contacts to want to get back in touch with you, so you should make sure the tenor of your writing rings true. An email to catch up with your old boss, for example, should sound more formal than an email to an old colleague.
Don’t assume anything. When composing your opening, reference your relationship with your contact without asking whether they remember you. Using the phrases “Remember me?” or “You probably don’t remember me, but…” devalues your connection with that person by suggesting you may not have been important enough to be memorable. On the other hand, if you assume they recognize your name without further context and they don’t, the situation may become awkward.
Don’t make it all about you. A networking email needs to recognize that professional connections are a two-way street, so make sure the email to your old colleague or boss does more than request job search
help for yourself. You might congratulate them for a new promotion or invite them to lunch, but make sure you’re not just asking for favors without offering something in return.
And their best piece of advice: Don’t fail to maintain the relationship. Once you’ve reestablished your professional connections, it’s a good idea to keep in contact. Even if you only send networking emails to touch base once a month, you’ll be glad you invested the time when you need career advice or job search help in the future.
Do some research before making contact e.g. In the instance of long lost contacts (or even more current ones) this is important. Imagine reaching out to someone and mentioning their deceased spouse in the present tense! The key is to make your note exclusively about the person with whom you wish to re-connect. Most people will reciprocate with the question “What’s going on in your life?” If they don’t, then the relationship holds little value, or the person is just not interested. Either way, refrain from talking about yourself until your question is reciprocated.
Most people enjoy re-connecting with individuals from past jobs, networking groups, etc. However, to increase the likelihood of an individual responding to your message, your approach should be authentic and reeking of reciprocity. Remember, you must make it clear how your outreach benefits them. Otherwise you’re simply wasting your time.
Getting started on your re-connect trail should be easy.
1. List who you remember as people who can help you.
2. Do your research about them (LinkedIn is a good place to start).
3. Determine how you can help them.
4. Have a plan for sustaining the contact.
5. Get that email out there!
EBR Consulting wishes you the best in this endeavor and if you are really struggling, we’ll be glad to help.
This ain’t your Daddy’s job search, for sure! Why you’re looking for a job at this age is your business - but I know that there are many many people out there looking with you.
You may wonder if you can even go back to work after you started receiving Social Security payments. Here’s the Social Security rule: If you are between ages 62 and 66 or 67 (full retirement age) and working while also receiving monthly Social Security benefits, in 2020 you will be able to earn up to $18,240 ($1,520 per month) before the Social Security Administration deducts $1 from your benefits for every $2 you earn. In the year you turn your full retirement age, the earnings limit will be $48,600 ($4,050 per month) before the agency will deduct $1 for every $3 you earn until the month you reach full retirement age. (For those born between 1943 and 1954, full retirement age is 66. It increases by two months for each year after until 67.) The earnings limit disappears once you reach full retirement age. ( This rule is current as of 11/01/2019)
Job searching these days is very computer and on-line centric - in the beginning. When you first started looking for work back in the 50’s and 60’s, you looked in the Sunday paper. There are still job postings in the paper, but there are thousands more online.
Before you get started applying for jobs - you need a good resume. It’s important to have a well-written professional looking resume. The cost is usually around $350.00 for a good resume by a professional resume writer. This is not something you want your cousin’s husband to knock out for you – unless he’s a professional resume writer. Most people find their resume writers online. And there’s that word again - online.
If you are not computer literate - you may struggle a while. The good news is that there are several ways you can become computer literate - in a short length of time, for free.
If you aren’t familiar with computers at all, you’re going to have to use your telephone. Here’s some of the places that I know give free help with computer learning to seniors.
Your next obstacle - (I know you’re thinking it) is that you aren’t very good at a computer. That’s OK. No matter where you are, someone will help you get signed on and to access Youtube. Tell your helper you want to use the free Youtube videos that teach you how to use the computer. These videos begin with rock-bottom basics and since you can go back to them over and over and they never get mad, you can practice until you’ve got it right!
Once you have the basics, take a look at the following websites - even if all you do is scroll through them the first time.
Looking for a job - is a job. You need to dedicate at least an hour a day looking at job postings and applying online. But one thing you should know - you must Get Yourself Out There.
Only 20% of job-seekers get hired from an on-line application. 80% find their job through networking. That means letting your friends and family and fellow church members and Canasta club members know that you are looking for work. Ask these folks if they know anyone who is hiring for the job you want, or if they know anyone at that company they can introduce you to.
This can be hard when you first start, so you have to just do it, because it gets easier as you go. Look around the next time you are shopping - are there any help wanted signs where you think you’d like to work?
If you have been retired for a while, you may not be excited about driving or commuting to work anymore (if you ever were!). The number of people who work from home increases daily, so keep an eye out for that type of posting. I should warn you though, many of the remote worker jobs require computer skills, so get going on your e-learning!
Some of the basic computer skills you should have are:
Do not tell yourself that you are too old to learn how to use a computer or anything else. Your body may slow down some, but your brain never does. In these days of extremely low jobless rates, over 60 people are more hireable than ever. You already know how to come to work every day, how to be responsible for what you do, and how to deal with people. Spend a little time getting yourself ready for today’s job market and then Get Yourself Out There!
Let’s start with a short history lesson.
In 1938, a revised version of the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed that adopted an eight-hour day and a forty-hour workweek and allowed workers to earn wage for an extra four hours of overtime as well. According to the act, workers must be paid minimum wage and overtime pay must be one-and-a-half times regular pay. Children under eighteen cannot do certain dangerous jobs, and children under sixteen cannot work in manufacturing or mining, or during school hours.
Why would Congress pass a law regarding children and what jobs they can do and when? Historically, children were used in factories in jobs that required being able to fit in tight spaces, or their small hands could do work adults couldn’t. Children worked in mines doing the jobs that didn’t require the strength of an adult. How could their parents allow this? Many of them were working alongside their parents.
For real pictures from those times, click here http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/childlabor
Today’s young people have a great deal of protection from the law regarding when they can work, their work breaks, and their working conditions – to the point that if you are under 15 years of age – it’s very difficult to find work.
Which is actually the subject of our blog this month – Everybody says I’m too young!
Here’s some of the things an employer in Texas must consider if they are going to hire someone under 18:
Thinking About Joining a Professional Organization?
Professional organizations consist of a group of people in an occupation that collaborates and connects with other professionals in that occupation through meetings, continuing education and other activities. Can they help with a job search? Almost always.
These organizations allow you to connect with people in the same job or field that you are searching for. You can stay up to date with the latest trends in your field, and even find out about incredible job opportunities before they are posted elsewhere. Remember that many jobs are never posted on job boards, people learn about them through networking. Whether they specifically talk about jobs upfront to you or not, organization members could be the ones to introduce you to their friends and their personal connections. In addition, you can leverage a professional association’s LinkedIn Group for professional networking. Be sure your LinkedIn profile is complete.
Being a member of your professional group is also a good addition to your resume. It shows that you are continuing to expand your knowledge about the field, and that you are involved in activities outside of work.
What are the downsides to joining a professional organization? While the primary concern may be the cost to join; the time commitment required may be prohibitive as well.
Typically, a professional organization will cost anywhere from $55 to $200 per year. Of course, all organizations are different, but you should consider the benefits as well as the cost. Is it worth the money if it will provide you with great opportunities for your future? A onetime annual cost could introduce you to the perfect job or the right connection. It is just like hiring a resume writer; you pay a onetime fee and get an incredible product that has the potential to open doors to help you get your dream job. Ask yourself what your professional growth is worth. There are professional organizations for practically every career you can think of, a little research will help you to find the right fit for you. You can start by checking out this site: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Professional_associations_based_in_the_United_States
Roughly one-third of Americans have searched for a job in the last 2 years and 79% of them used on-line resources in their job search. (Pew Research Center)
That means that there are many sites that advertise jobs; some of them are legitimate and some of them are not. How can you safely make your way through the job-site maze to find the job you’re looking for?
It’s important that you protect your personal information. Sharing it on-line can cause you problems, so let’s look at some of the best practices for on-line job searching.
One of the Most Dreaded Interview Questions and
How to Prepare For It
“So, tell us about yourself” Argghhh - you practiced for this, because you knew it would happen, but now you’re clutching!
This is the easiest question, you know yourself better than anyone, right? The interviewer has a twofold reason for asking this question - they want to see your organized thinking and they want to help you relax a little. Your organized thinking shows when you don’t hem and haw with your answer and can show a natural progression of thought.
Go online and look at the website of the company where you will be interviewing. They should have an “about us” page where they talk about their company philosophy, their priorities, and how they support the community. See if you have anything in common with their community giving (Boys and Girls Club, School math clubs, robot clubs, or Goodwill, etc). How does your philosophy about work (ethics, responsibility, inclusion) jibe with the company’s? Use the common ground you find as part of the “about me” answer.
You can think of your answer in three parts - Past, Strengths and Current
Past - Start by linking your answer back to your resume. You could say, ‘I've got a couple of really interesting past experiences that I think are relevant to this position and I've outlined them in my resume, but let me just tell you a bit about myself in those roles.” Brief is the key word.
Strengths - The company’s mission, vision and values will be on their website as well. Mention that your core values (ethics, responsibility, inclusion, transparency) align well with the company’s.
Current: You could include a very short, high level bio. Married with 2 children - Enjoy my volunteer work at Kids Komputer Kamp (because this is something the company works with as well), Lived here x number of years and love the town (or looking forward to moving here because of the great community). Nothing extremely personal, negative or untruthful.
Conclude your answer by mentioning your current status for example: “ What I am looking for now is a company that values customer relations, where I can join a strong team and have a positive impact on customer retention and sales."
You can then ask your own question. “Do you have any questions about what I have just told you?” Why would you do that? It gives the interviewer a chance to ask - “How did you like the Kids Komputer Kamp last year?” or “How do you define transparency?”, which could help the interviewer to become a little more invested in your interview.
Now that you know what to include in your answer - write it out like a script and practice it. Don’t learn it by rote but be sure you have it in the right order and will sound natural. Your answer shouldn’t be more than 2-3 minutes in length. Edit, Edit, Edit - Use the KISS principle - Keep It Simple and Short!
Don’t forget when you go in for the interview that one of the last questions you will be asked is:” Do you have any questions for us?” It’s your turn - be sure you have some.
”The official phrase of Star Wars day (also known as Jedi day) which is on May 4th. Its synonymous to "may the force be with you", which is said in Star Wars a lot.” If you knew this already, you are probably not part of the Baby Boomer Generation, but likely are part of the younger generations with all the XYZ names.
And if you not only know it, but use this phrase and others like it, some of your co-workers may not understand your reference or appreciate it.
So what, you say? If they don’t understand the slang or jargon you use, they could be offended by it, it could embarrass them if they misinterpret it, or it could make them angry that they are not able to follow your meaning. That causes some people to stop trying to communicate with you, and if that person is your boss, or a co-worker you work closely with, it can cause you trouble.
In fact, there have been scientific studies on the effect of using slang or jargon with employees. Here’s a quote from one of them: “the use of jargons makes employees feel irritated and left out, hence they end up misunderstanding whatever has been communicated to them and that affect individual productivity as well as the organization’s productivity and its profit margin.” (The Impact of Using Many Jargon Words, while Communicating with the Organization Employees Ngueviuta Patoko, Rashad Yazdanifard)
Most people develop an almost dual language style. There’s how they speak with their friends and there’s how they speak at work. In most customer-facing positions, it is necessary to use a more formal language than the one used visiting with friends, the same thing goes when you are talking to co-workers in a business venue - regardless of how you speak to each other outside of work. More than anything else it is a matter of respect for the other person and a necessity to keep business relationships more formal.
Another article regarding language at work says this: A bad day at the office could heighten emotions among workers, and some could mutter in frustration: “He (or she) screwed up!” “This sucks!” or “I’m pissed off!” According to Boston-based workplace behavior expert Beverly Flaxington, author of Understanding Difficult People: The Five Secrets of Human Behavior (ATA Press, 2010), “screwed,” “sucks” and “pissed” are slang terms associated originally with a sexual act or bodily function.
“Even though people say these terms in everyday life, they do not belong in the office,” she wrote in an e-mail interview. “Many employees—particularly older employees—are offended by such language.”
Everybody slips - when you slip into unprofessional language at work, it is important to acknowledge the slip and apologize - especially if one of your fellow workers pointed it out. Keep in mind that you may not get a verbal reminder that your language was not appreciated, a raised eyebrow, or a slight wince or frown may be all that you get. Be aware of that non-verbal feedback, it will help you in many circumstances.
Going back to “May the Fourth Be With You” - that’s not offensive language, it’s not really totally unprofessional language - but it is not formal enough for most business occasions. Check your conversations at work for a few days - how are you communicating?
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