Older workers often have an advantage over younger workers when it comes to applying for jobs. You may not have even thought about the value of the relationships that you have built throughout your career, but you indeed have something precious. Your years of experience in the workforce and careful cultivation of meaningful professional relationships can create a powerful network of peers and mentors.
Your professional network is an important part of your toolset, and not just when you are looking for a job. Your network can be an ongoing source of support and knowledge if you know how to leverage it properly.
Here are some ways that you can expand and use your network:
Volunteering can have wonderful networking benefits. Not only are you able to donate your time and expertise to a worthwhile cause, but you will have the opportunity to meet people with similar interests, and expand your network.
You can choose a cause that is aligned with your professional interests, but you don’t have to. Volunteering can be a great way to expand your circle beyond your current professional interests. Volunteer work is also a great addition to your resume.
Find a mentor and be a mentor. Mentorship offers even more opportunities to build important professional connections. Reach out to someone whose work you admire and ask if they would be willing to mentor you.
You should also be open to mentoring someone yourself. Mentoring relationships have a lot to offer for both the mentor and the mentee. In the sharing of ideas and experiences, both parties expand their knowledge and broaden their networks.
Social media is not just for sharing holiday photos or important news with family and friends. Many people use platforms such as LinkedIn.com and job search engines to build a professional online presence. These platforms allow you to network with other people in an environment that encourages the sharing of ideas.
These platforms give you a place to connect with people you already know and to expand that network to others with similar interests. Posting a few savvy comments or sharing your work experience can be a great way to draw people in and get you noticed.
Professional organizations are great places to meet other people and make connections. These organizations may be directly related to the type of work you do, or they may be more general in scope. Either way, you know that the people you meet are invested in professional development and improving their skills.
Industry-related organizations can help you expand your understanding of the work you do, and non-specialized groups can introduce new ideas and ways of doing things that you may not have considered.
No matter how you choose to grow or use your network, remember that the value of these connections extends far beyond your job search. These relationships expand your capabilities and broaden your horizons. You can use them to learn, grow and connect in meaningful ways.