Networking is a valuable skill to possess at any stage in life. As a senior, you can use networking to expand your social circle, find volunteer opportunities, or even start a business or nonprofit.
Living On Lean Means provides people who live on a fixed income—such as seniors collecting Social Security—with the tools they need to diversify their income.
This guide provides networking tips specifically designed for seniors.
Define Your Venture and Learn How to Present it Succinctly to Others
A common question when networking, especially in the business field, is “what do you do?” You should be able to answer this question precisely and succinctly.
Writing out a business plan can help you hash out the details of your enterprise and talk about it more proficiently.
This is a detailed guidebook to what your business is and how it’s run. It covers everything from a product and service description to financial projections and marketing plans.
Once you have your business plan in place, you should be able to easily answer all kinds of questions about your nonprofit or business.
However, you should also be able to provide a quick top-line overview of what you do. Craft an elevator pitch that isn’t more than 30 seconds long, giving a quick snapshot of what you do.
Zety offers a quick guide to writing an elevator pitch that’s both succinct and compelling. Make sure to practice it when you’re done!
In addition to your elevator pitch, there is one other tool you should have to help communicate to others what your venture is all about—your business card.
While some people might assume business cards are out-of-date, they are still useful. You can modernize your cards using tricks like adding a QR code that directs people to your website.
Make sure to follow basic networking tips when designing cards, like showing a logo.
Attend Industry-Relevant Events in Person to Broaden Your Reach
Once you have your networking tools ready to go and are confident in your ability to communicate, it’s time to start networking.
There are many ways to do this. Start by looking for events you can attend in person that are relevant to your industry.
You can find opportunities by browsing networking sites, talking to people who work in your field, and checking social media. Alumni organizations are another way to find networking events.
As you gain confidence, take another step. Instead of simply attending networking events, consider participating in them.
You can start small. For example, if you attend a panel session, make a point of asking a question at the end.
As your self-esteem grows, look for ways to actively participate in events. For example, you might take part in a panel on a topic you are an expert in.
This is a terrific way to get your name known in your community.
As you continue to network, you may also want to keep an eye out for a mentor. This is a person who can provide valuable support and guidance in your endeavors, which is especially useful if you’re starting a business or nonprofit.
As a senior, keep in mind that you may end up with a mentor that’s younger than you. This is perfectly okay. In fact, it can be beneficial.
Use Digital Tools to Build Your Online Network
Today’s networking tips must also consider advances in technology. You no longer need to rely on in-person events alone.
There are many digital conferences these days, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic made larger conferences a risk.
When attending a virtual conference, prepare accordingly. Make sure you know how to use the virtual tool, block off your calendar, and set aside snacks for breaks.
Online events are only one of the ways you can network digitally. Social media is another wonderful opportunity for connecting with others. In the professional field, LinkedIn is a great option.
Take care when creating your profile as this is the first impression you will make to people who don’t yet know you.
Further, make sure to leverage the many tools the platform offers—for example, by sharing thought leader articles.
This brings up another valuable networking tip—blogging! If you have a website, include a blog that you update regularly with insights into your niche.
You can disseminate your blog on platforms like LinkedIn, using it as a tool to meet new people. Make sure to check the comments on your blog and respond to them.
Active engagement is the key to success when forging connections digitally.
Nurture Your Business Connections Going Forward
Making connections is only the first step in implementing networking tips. You also have to maintain those connections and keep them.
There are many ways to do this. Stay in touch with people you’ve met in person online via social media. Look for organic ways to reconnect.
For example, if a friend of yours needs copywriting support and you know a copywriter, connect the two. It’s a wonderful way to show that you’re keeping someone in mind.
You can also proactively create opportunities for reconnecting with people you know. Hosting events is an excellent way to bring people together.
You can create in-person events or host digital ones, like webinars or podcasts. While this requires some extra effort, it also gives you greater control over the people you surround yourself with.
HootSuite offers a guide to successfully hosting virtual events to help.
Maintaining a strong network requires time and energy. If you don’t have the resources to handle it all yourself, consider hiring a virtual assistant.
You can find professionals on Upwork, browsing based on traits like reviews, expertise, and cost. You can also use Upwork to find other pros to support your networking initiatives, like social media managers, graphic designers, or website creators.
The above networking tips hold many benefits for seniors. You can use them to grow your business or nonprofit venture, helping you earn extra money in retirement.
You can also implement them if you’re simply looking to connect with more people.
For more content like this, check out the Living on Lean Means resource hub.
All the best,