As a senior business owner or budding entrepreneur, you have a natural edge over your competitors on account of your experience and knowledge. Managing money and relationships will possibly come more easily to you, which is what doing business is often all about. Conversely, you may find some of the more progressive aspects of doing business more challenging – such as the digitisation of the workplace. Even networking has become more technology-driven over the years, especially since the pandemic, as academics at Imperial University note. However, you possibly have a lot more skills in your toolkit than you realise. These networking ideas for older business owners might help you.
Why you should care about networking
Networking is a core business practice with multiple benefits. Most importantly, it puts you in front of
potential customers, business partners, and seasoned mentors – which can directly benefit your bottom
line. Additionally, it improves your brand’s credibility in the marketplace, while also highlighting your
importance in your community. Last, but not least, it’s your ticket to finding top-tier employees.
Get acquainted with the new ways of networking
Networking online is usually more convenient than offline. The coronavirus meet-up restrictions have
only cemented the online trend. If virtual networking is not in your comfort zone, these are some of the post-pandemic networking essentials:
• Social media: Social media like Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to scout out and connect with potential clients, mentors, and employees. Look for business groups in your niche.
• Virtual networking events: Attend virtual networking events organised by respected business leaders, schools, or companies. These will be great learning opportunities.
• Establish a virtual presence: Set up a professional website, get an account on one or two social media sites, and consider publishing a business blog. It makes you an authority in your field, someone people can approach.
Be seen as relevant
When you network, your age could be your biggest asset or your biggest liability, depending on your approach and attitude. It’s important to be seen as relevant: dress professionally, try to avoid talk about how things were ‘back in the day’. Stay informed on new developments and best practices, and don’t be afraid of learning new things.
Being seen as adaptable and open-minded is a good way to be taken seriously by a younger crowd. You’re likely to be welcomed as somebody who can show vulnerability as well as authority.
Teach and share your expertise
Don’t underestimate the skills you do have. As an older entrepreneur, you have likely acquired valuable experience and skills over the years. Teaching other people what you know is an excellent networking strategy. Not only does it boost your profile in the community, but you can draw in and connect with clients, potential employees, and fellow business owners.
Explore local networking opportunities
Offline networking is, of course, still important. You should take full advantage of opportunities when you can.The online networking ideas are great for enior business business owners.
• Business groups: Look for local business groups like the Chamber of Commerce or your city’s development associations. Even small village halls sometimes hold coffee mornings for local community networking.
• Events: Participate in business events like seminars and conferences. Local festivals and even backyard barbecues can end up being a source of useful contacts if the conversations lean that way.
• Volunteering: Volunteering your time is a good way to give back to the community and meet a range of people.
Maintain what you have
Maintaining relationships is just as important as acquiring new ones. Some quick tips:
• Keep in touch with your network through regular communication, online and offline.
• Try to benefit them – connect them when likely business opportunities arise. Mention them when speaking with others in their niche.
• You may want to make a database of your business associates so you don’t forget important dates and details.
Connect with a location-independent workforce online
Online networking can help you find, talk to, and get help from quality workers all over the world. For example, you can consult with experts through online freelancing boards, using them to improve your business processes on an as-needed basis.
The Homeworker business directory has many professionals who can help with tasks you need to outsource. You might want support with social media, web design, or marketing. Business consultants and coaches can also help you with getting started with a business plan and helping you to focus and develop the right mindset.
Networking should be a priority for all business owners. It’s one of the most low-cost and effective ways
to grow your business. With networking, you will maximise your impact in the community and get the
support you need to become successful in business.
Read our interview with Suzanne Noble inside volume 3 of the print edition.
As a female entrepreneur in her 60s, Suzanne shares how views of older workers have changed and the disadvantages and advantages of age.