Networking Tips for Entrepreneurial Seniors in Today’s Marketplace
By Mary Shannon
Currently, there are more than 25 million entrepreneurs across the United States. These are the dreamers and go-getters who have the drive to introduce a new product or service into the market and the dedication to see it succeed and make a profit. Once you are born an entrepreneur, you are always an entrepreneur, that doesn’t change just because you grow into your senior years. Seniors have many great ideas and they deserve a piece of the pie as much as everyone else. Just like the rest of the world, networking is an important part of the equation. As a graphic designer, Mark Zarr knows how important it is to succeed in today’s marketplace, so he has some great tips for networking and succeeding as a senior.
Benefits of Networking
If you are a senior that is looking to get a business idea off of the ground, then networking is a great way to start. There are many benefits to networking including the chance that you may meet someone that can give you a great business idea that you could work on together. You may also meet people who won’t work with you directly but can offer essential career advice and support.
As a senior, there is a good chance that you have been out of the business and networking game for a long time, but by getting out there and meeting new people, you will improve your communication skills which could help you in other parts of your business. Perhaps the best perk of networking is how going around and meeting new people can be a major boost to your self-confidence so you can reach your goals in these later years.
Decide What You Want to Do
Now that you are ready to get out there and start networking, you need to know what you are working towards. Many seniors are interested in the idea of giving back so they may decide to start a nonprofit organization or a similar volunteer opportunity. Starting a nonprofit is just like starting a regular business. However, there are some differences, such as the need to apply for tax-exempt status.
If you are looking to start a traditional business, you will need to come up with a product, a marketing strategy, and find your primary demographic. However, before you do all of that, you will need to decide the type of business structure you’ll want. There are many options, including a C corporation and sole proprietorship, but many choose to go with a limited liability corporation.
Going with an LLC provides plenty of perks including special tax benefits and less paperwork so you can focus on the business at hand. Seniors who need help creating an LLC should consult a formation service that will set up your company while following all state guidelines. A company like ZenBusiness can be instrumental in getting you started.
Where to Network
Now that you have all of the details in order, it is time to start networking. You have many places where you can meet new people. If you prefer to talk to people in person, you can attend public speaking events, civic organizations, alumni events, job fairs, or you can join or visit professional associations to meet other like-minded professionals.
A great way to meet other seniors and positive people of all walks of life is at a charity or volunteer event. Not only will attending these gatherings give you a sense of pride as you help your community, but you can know that the people you meet there are good-hearted and that they take their personal and professional lives seriously.
If you are good at navigating the internet, then you will find that there are a slew of places where you can meet new networking connections, including on social media and at online seminars. Of course, the best place to go is to LinkedIn, which is a website designed for professionals who are looking for new jobs or the chance to network with entrepreneurs like yourself. While there, you can either join a group or befriend specific members and strike up a conversation.
Tips While Networking
When it comes to the act of networking in person, you may at first feel uncomfortable, especially if it has been some years since you have been at it. A great way to go in with natural confidence is to wear professional attire, such as a suit or a nice blouse. When you find someone that you would like to meet, you can make a good impression by smiling, making eye contact, and giving your full first and last name, which will give you a better chance of being remembered.
It is important to remember that it isn’t all about you. While you do want to introduce yourself, you shouldn’t do all of the talking. Instead, you should ask the other person smart questions and then practice active listening where you keep that eye contact and show that you are listening by nodding your head when necessary and making sure not to interrupt.
Finally, it is a good idea to bring plenty of business cards that you can pass around as you meet new people and you may decide to leave a few behind in case you missed anyone.
As you can see, there are many ways that seniors can build the groundwork for a business or nonprofit through smart networking. Just remember to be yourself and you will make a great impression. If you need graphic design assistance with your new endeavor, Mark Zarr can help. Call us at 208-954-1611.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary Shannon created SeniorsMeet.org, along with her husband, Bob, to have a website that allows seniors to meet up and talk about topics that are relevant to their daily lives. They hope to build SeniorsMeet into a supportive community of like-minded seniors.