by John Sullivan
As you head towards retirement and start cleaning out files, don’t forget clean out your network.
The time to re-evaluate your contacts is before your retire, so you can provide advance notice of your intentions. Besides streamlining your contacts, you’ll reduce the carrying costs of maintaining people who don’t add value to your network and make room for new and better ones to replace them.
Think of your network as a plant – it’s a living collection of contacts. Like any plant certain parts decline and die and need to be pruned.
Here are criteria for removing contacts:
Conditional Relationships: Some current co-workers may base your relationship on your work role. When the work ends, so does the relationship. Eliminate them from your network.
Changed Relationships: Some people retire to leisure; others relocate to be closer to family or the ocean. It’s ok to retain a contact for social or sentimental reasons, but use a filter (I am assuming you use contacts software) to sort out social and sentimental relationships from business contacts that could benefit your Retirepreneur gig.
Changed Jobs: I once had a contact change jobs from selling credit services to cleaning supplies. I used credit services, but didn’t need cleaning supplies so when he called to talk about his new job, I gave him a few leads and then deleted the contact. I’m certain he did the same.
Lack of contact. The passage of time or a bounced e-mail is enough to warrant a deletion.
Takers and Non-Responders. If you only hear from a person when they want something, that’s a good reason to delete them from your contacts. Non-responders – people who don’t respond need to go – period. When Mike Bevis retired as President and General Manager of Huffy, first, he cleaned house. “I dropped anyone who was not a close friend and those who were not supporters,” said Bevis.
Finally, trust your intuition.
With a nod to Marie Kondo and her “tidying up” philosophy – your network should “spark joy.” It’s certainly a joy to land a paying assignment, but your network should help you spark joy for others. Older workers have contacts that can hire, buy goods and services, and connect buyers with sellers.
Don’t value your network only based on how you benefit – consider how you help others. This is not a zero-sum game; when others win, you win as well. Nurture your “networking” plant. The intrinsic joy of using your network to help someone in need can spark joy for both of you.
Stay tuned for Part 2 – Activating Your Network.
PS: Join the Retirepreneur Mighty Network – click here to join our free digital network. No ads, nobody is selling your data, and YOU control the experience.
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.