by John Sullivan
Earlier I wrote about re-evaluating your contacts before you retire, so you can make room for new and better ones to replace them. If you missed that first post, click here to give it a read.
Now that you have eliminated old and outdated contacts, it’s time to start lining up new ones.
Let’s begin with some networking math:
The 20/80 Rule
Less than 20 percent of new opportunities come from strong ties – the people closest to you: family, lifelong friends and the like.
The remaining 80 percent are weak ties – the ones you need to create and work. This is based on solid research by Mark Granovetter, who published the “The Strength of Weak Ties” in 1973.
The average person knows about 250 people.
More about this metric in this post by Harvey Mackay.
20% of 250 is 50 and 20% of 50 is 10.
That is the number cited by Joann Lublin of the Wall Street Journal in an article citing five “simple but crucial” lessons from her years of writing the “Managing Your Career” column. Identifying and nurturing 10 new contacts will direct your efforts on creating new relationships with greater possibilities.
New Ways to Network the Old Way
Back in the days of traditional retirement, larger corporations had Retiree Clubs. More common now are groups of former or retired employees on LinkedIn and Facebook. Seek them out and join them – then make a brief post introducing yourself, including when you worked there what you plan to do next. If the group occasionally meets for lunch or coffee, attend a few meetings to get a sense of how it operates and who might be a person to know.
And a good person to know might be a younger person at a former employer. Increase your ties with younger workers, especially those 15 to 20 years into a career. They will likely have authority to hire or purchase services. They’ll also have a network of industry peers and vendors they can connect you with – businesses needing authentic experiences using your expertise.
Building a New Relationship
Once you connect, meet in person. Set yourself apart from others by providing a brief handwritten thank you note after the initial meeting. Then start giving to that person, because giving is the other half of networking. If you’re doing it right, you should be giving more than you take, so if and when you have a real need for something, your bank of favors will cover it.
A Retirepreneur Example
After 24 years, Mike Bevis retired as President and General Manager of Huffy Firs
“I met a lady who had a company called ‘Your Replacement Group’ and I liked her concept. We tried to work together, but it wasn’t to be. From there, I went out and tried my new concept on many others.”
The concept is “time shared executive.” Mike uses his executive experience doing marketing and planning work for several companies, freeing owners to focus on their core competencies. “Companies know how to work in their business, but never have the time to work on their business,” said Bevis.
The point here: Know what you want from your network. If you have a defined gig in mind using skills from your career or a long-time side hustle, then you want clients and assignments. If you have a desire to work, but only a vague sense of what to do, seek out new people for discussion.
Sometimes a fresh contact can provide insights a long-term friend doesn’t see in you. When that happens, it might lead to a job finding you, instead of you finding a job.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
John Sullivan has over 30 years as a project manager and has published business and career articles in a number of magazines and websites, including the Wall Street Journal’s Careers.com website. He lives in Dayton, Ohio.