Daily Archives: March 11, 2014

Mid-Life Career Changes and the Importance of Networking

Woman with BinocularsJob hunting when you’re over 40 isn’t easy, especially when ageism is alive and well.  You can try all the resume tricks like deleting the dates next to your degrees, removing any experience that’s more than 15 years old, and removing the dated “objectives box”. You can dye your hair, whiten your teeth, and remove your watch (a supposed indicator of age). 

As I discovered, however, all of this can backfire.  All I was getting called for were entry-level positions.

I remember being very excited when I went for an interview in “entertainment marketing and sales” for a “leading advertising agency”. I had many years of experience booking bands and solo artists and did all the marketing, social media, and promotion so this seemed like a perfect fit.

Bait and Switch

However, as I entered the office, I realized that something didn’t add up.  The other applicants were all 20-somethings and it didn’t look like a typical office. The pictures on the walls of their events were very generic and not their events at all. There were no company signs or logos anywhere. Everything screamed “Sham”.  When I entered the interview room, I was told that the job entailed selling coupon books on college campuses for pizza and basketball games.

Oh, I left out the best part: The salary was straight commission. Obviously, this wasn’t an advertising agency.

Notes to self: 1) Don’t look for jobs on Craigslist. 2) Think about starting a business to avoid all this nonsense!

Networking_meetingHow to really get a job or build a business  To avoid riding this merry-go-round, I would suggest trying a different approach: Networking. This can be either live or virtual. This is a must for entrepreneurs!

I’ve found many opportunities for myself and others this way and have 6 tips to share:

  • Search for and attend at least 2 networking meetings a week. You can find a plethora of listings on MeetUp.
  • Don’t beg for business or a job. Connect with 5-10 people. Ask them what they love about their business and what types of referrals they need.
  • Take their business card. Write notes on the back. Start thinking of potential leads for them.
  • Follow up! Enter all names and contact info into your database. Follow up with an “It was nice to meet you at_____” email. Add a person that you would like your new contact to meet and cc the other person. Include the contact info for both.
  • Connect on social media! Find your new contacts on LinkedIn and connect. You can also connect with their contacts or find others. Join LinkedIn groups and connect with those people.
  • Interaction is the key! Don’t just accumulate names on LinkedIn, Facebook, or TwitterMessage them, like their posts and comment on them, add valuable content of your own. The more your name pops up, the more exposure and opportunities you will get.

Networking and social media are great ways to discover unadvertised opportunities, find quality leads, and get direct access to people who make the hiring decisions.  Besides, you get to meet all sorts of interesting people! You may even meet future business partners.  All for the price of a cup of coffee. 

Dori_RockerChick_jacket2013Dori Staehle is a business and success coach and Chief Encouragement Officer at Rock the Next Stage. She is also a career development instructor at Wake Tech Community College.

For more information on how to jump start your career or business, contact Dori here. You can connect with my LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts by using the above links.