Networking across generational gaps

    It has occurred to me that in today’s tech world, there are many people my age (Gen. X) or older trying to navigate the tech business world & get jobs or business surrounded by younger workers. In all comparisons, to be realistic, there are pros & cons. So to be clear this blog post is not meant to criticize one generation or another; for decades business has valued multiple generations and career entry-points for their positive aspects (e.g., youthful energy vs. maturity & reliability). So to spin traditional perceptions on their ear, here are some considerations on how more ‘experienced professionals’ can network their ways as ‘older-newcomers’ to the tech industry with fresh but limited experience in a young business world (you know – like all those movies about older folks getting internships at tech startups)…

    First off, let’s not forget that many Millenials are still asking how they can network their way into jobs hired by Baby Boomers and Gen Xers (a subject for another blog post). But for older candidates competing against youth, my recommendations would be several.

    For one, write up a boilerplate networking intro email for your friends to send around to their contacts (one-on-one; not blasts; personalized business still works). How do you know who your friends know that you want to know? (yeah – read that question again; it’s a doosey); LinkedIn.

    Get LinkedIn-connected with your friends (& your friends’ friends if they’re comfortable; remembering that a LinkedIn connection coupled with an in-person meeting or phone conversation has more value). And make sure your LinkedIn profile focuses on what you want & has an objective & the content revolves around these. Your background may be diverse; use buzz words like “creative” & “communications” & “people person” & “years of business experience” if they’re accurate, or similar/other words, for past skills & attributes for yourself. Remember those descriptions represent your ‘edges,’ not detriments, compared to your newer tech or educational colleagues.

    Also remember that you can be a rarity; fresh & energetic yet also mature & experienced. You may not be a tech biz person or coder with a long history of big projects & price tags, but you aren’t going to blow a biz deal; you know how to relate to people so you have that edge over people with your level of IT experience. For example people with many years of primarily a ‘hyper-focus’ in coding, or people with limited personal, professional, business communications & networking exposure, can’t compete in those areas. If you can, use them as your edge. It is possible to be both energetic & responsible at the same time; so say it, claim it, do it – brand yourself that way. And do it across your social media profiles, industry-objective-relevant blog posts – yes, pump out a lot of focused, consistent digital content across the web to prove who you are. 

    Another aspect to tight-rope-walk is the perception of monetary value. You have to be honest with yourself about what you think you can achieve for a price tag if you have limited tech experience. So don’t push a projection that you expect top dollar for a job you’ve never fully done before. So when discussing your ‘experience,’ do so carefully. Phrases such as “I bring my years of business relationships to my new, fresh industry to grow my experience here.” Or “I am networking my way into a new career while not forgetting my history of business responsibility & acumin, to bring those to the table to help in new roles.”

    So realize your branding, write your self-branding statements, elevator pitches & social media profiles, & populate these across your resume & the web. & since you’re going into tech, do things like make your own self-promo website, QR code for LinkedIn, join numerous social media sites & apps, & push up consistent meaningful content about your focus & objectives. & go to it!

    Thanks for reading,
    Jake Aull, ZenFires Digital Marketing