In my earlier blog posts I recommended that once you have a career change plan, you should be adaptable and flexible with regard to the employment market place. This won’t be enough if your career search is being carried out alone. There are numerous different types of networks and benefits arising from each. Successful professionals use networks to assist their navigation of the world. This is teamwork as opposed to a solo quest for your career. For this reason, you need to invest in your professional networks as part of your entrepreneurial strategy and ensure that they are as diverse as possible.
The old way of networking meant collecting as many business cards as possible and determining how this or that person could benefit you. The new approach for career changers over 40 is deciding what help you can offer first and support them in some way, shape or form, thereby building relationships. Others will then help you to accelerate your career by supporting you but this is not simple cause and effect. It is the people you connect with who will link you to information, opportunities and resources. The number of high quality links or relationships is more important than high numbers of links.
It is now often said that you become the people you mix with. If you want to change your career faster, mix with those who are already where you want to be. You should see yourself as part of a team where you and the others in the team have equal importance. The emphasis is on common goals and shared interests, with a collaborative mindset. Don’t ignore the relationships that you already have, both the looser ties and the professional relationships. Any of these may prove to be your allies in your career change journey based on reciprocal support.
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
Well known examples of professional networks today are LinkedIn, Facebook groups, Google circles, Roundtable, NRG Networks, Women In Business and Business Network International (BNI). There are more than 100 m professionals on LinkedIn today.
Maintain your separate identity from your employer past or present by creating a professional title for yourself based on your personal brand. You can use LinkedIn to research other professionals you would like to meet to further your career change. LinkedIn is underused by most of its members, so you would have an edge if you begin to use it intelligently. Fill out your profile like it’s an executive bio, so include past companies, education, affiliations, and activities. Then include a link to your profile as part of your email signature to increase your connectability.
BranchOut is an application where users create their professional profiles on Facebook. BranchOut is now the largest professional networking application on Facebook with more than 25 million registered users and over 400 million professional profiles. You could use BranchOut to leverage your Facebook friend networks to find jobs, recruit talent, and strengthen relationships with professional contacts.
How To Network for Career Change
You would expect that people attending networking meetings would introduce new people to others that they know. However, this does not happen as a rule and you will need to be proactive. Ask your contact to introduce you to someone who you wish to meet and make it clear why you want to meet them. If you explain how you may be able to help them or you wish to partner with them, it will feel less impersonal to the person doing the introduction.
Better still, spend a little time researching the person you want to meet. If you start the discussion with phrases such as “I am curious about…”, “I noticed you…”, etc. you will demonstrate your connection with that person and have a more productive exchange.
Fostering Your Networks
Networks need fostering and caring for just as you would feed and nurture a plant. Helping someone shows that you are not just on the receiving end and that you have something to share and to offer to other people, regardless of status or job position.
You could consider giving a small gift based on your unique experience or skills which is valuable as you are the only person who can provide this, e.g. providing an article that they would find relevant. Another way of helping is to refer someone to another contact of yours, acting as a bridge between them. Supporting other people and maintaining your networks is the best way to accelerate your career change.
For my support in making your successful career change, go to my Services page: http://careerchangeat40.com/services.