Networking as an older executive may sound scary. The data may give all executives a reason to put their minds at ease.
In June 2018, the unemployment rate for people over age 45 was at 3.1% to 3.3%. However, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics also shows that the unemployment rate was higher in all other age demographics. But executives cannot just “get a job”.
If you are an executive looking for work
Taking any job that comes along is not an option. Networking can also be tougher. There is a whole new generation of workers starting out with their business ideas and ways of communicating.
They are networking with you on LinkedIn. Studies have shown that certain industries are widely known for age discrimination practices. Now, you have to compete with the younger generation for an executive position while networking.
Before you get concerned, or worse feel humiliated, here is what you can do as an older executive networking on LinkedIn.
1. Start being yourself and owning it
Some on LinkedIn have taken to the belief that the way to compete with a younger audience is to become one of them.
They let go of everything they had learned in the past. They adopt the belief that wisdom holds you back. They start trying to spin what they know in a way that younger companies may understand.
This is just wrong!
Everything you learn in your career is worth something. Whether your perspectives, wisdom, or experience with people, all of what you had learned can make you that open-minded, dreamy, global leader who thinks of everyone.
But you have to own it. Talk about your experiences on LinkedIn. Talk about the times that you kept an open mind, influenced change, and tackled a worthy cause.
You cannot be grumpy about your age. You cannot be angry that others younger than you are in positions of leadership while networking. That is not the inclusive leader who grew into an executive.
You made it so far in your career by adapting to changes and owning your success each time. Why stop now?
2. Dig into your LinkedIn connections both present and future
Have you ever noticed in sports how it seems to be a family affair? One day, your favorite player is starting out a career. And 25 years later, that player’s son joins the same team as a rookie.
Do you think that is an accident or dumb luck? No, it is a combination of talent being passed down through the family, hard work, and yes, it helps when it comes time to enter the league. The senior professional has connections to help. It is the business of “climbing the career ladder with one hand extended to help”.
What you can do while networking on LinkedIn is reach out to find out what the kids of your current connections are doing. Find out where they are working and see if there are opportunities available for you to become an executive.
The fact is your network grown throughout your career will be larger. Your friend’s son or daughter can benefit from this, especially if the son or daughter is an executive.
You’ve been around longer. You know more people. Use that to your advantage. Do not be an ageist yourself and think that they are too young to help you. Work on a future together.
3. Get an updated LinkedIn profile
It is time to get rid of the LinkedIn profile that looks like an executive resume from 2000. Unlike years ago when you started, people do not read much off of screens.
Make sure that your LinkedIn headline, summary, and recommendations all show that you understand the expectations of the many companies and recruiters using LinkedIn.
A great headline helps you brand yourself as an executive. Great summaries can show that you are conversational in social media. Recommendations will show others that you have powerful credibility.
More so, get the app on your phone for when you meet people face to face. Use the app for introductions instead of relying on those paper business cards, which would be very green of you.
Overall, you are showing the entire group of people networking on LinkedIn, “Age is only a number.”