Looking back at my blog on networking in 2017, I think it’s time and timely to update. In light of a growing pandemic, it’s also more important to practice the art of networking online.
Essentially, the same basic principles apply.
Take quick notes as you find information about the person through LinkedIn or on other platforms.
Ask good questions if you can chat online or meet virtually.
If you see an article that might be of interest to someone, share it with them.
Use LinkedIn to acknowledge work anniversaries or birthdays.
Message the person when you invite them to connect on LI.
At some point, we will be going back to meeting people face to face and looking them in the eye. When that happens, make sure your body reflects genuine interest and you make eye contact. You might also be interested in some tips that Michael Hughes, (www.NetworkingForResults.com) has on offer
In late February, I had the good fortune to attend a session put on by the Kanata-Carleton Small Business Network at RBC on Hazeldean Road. This five-year-old network provides resources for small business owners in the region. They invited Michael Hughes as their speaker. Within 5 minutes, he had the audience mesmerized. Michael took networking to the next level.
I learned a lot. Michael helped me reconceptualize and understand how networking was really a leveraging strategy. Through extensive research and practice, he has put together a model to manage the social process of networking. Apparently, after the initial second, individuals only have 25 seconds to really capture interest. For this reason, it is essential that business owners are able to articulate their value proposition quickly, ideally in 15 words or less.
Much of what he shared with the audiences added greatly to my understanding:
Business is about results; results arise from opportunities; opportunity arises from relationships.
A relationship is defined as the intentional process of creating and developing connections from initial contact to ultimate outcome.
Always offer something as a contribution to the relationship.
The session inspired me to rethink how important that first impression is and how best to manage it. I have returned to my notes frequently as I’ve been meeting new people online. I want to make sure that the connection is friendly and inviting.
Today, with the onset of COVID-19, I am trying to reframe what I learned to apply to our new reality... self-isolation. Working from home but still trying to develop relationships out of opportunities online. It's a new challenge but these truths still apply: build trust, be visible and show your value. Thank you, Michael. You left me with lots to practice, in real-time and online.
If you read Debra’s article about branding after the age of 50, you will have some insight into the many challenges I encountered when starting up Top Sixty. Barely three months had passed before I realized that I had no desire to sell myself or my ideas on social media. In fact, I had such an aversion to it, I almost sunk my mission before I started.
Growing up, my generation was not invited to ‘brag’ about any of our achievements. Quite the contrary. We were advised to be humble; to let our actions speak for themselves. We didn’t get stars, prizes, or stickers for any mediocre performance or just because we were part of ‘the team’. Many of us were told to do better next time or just keep on trying. It’s not hard for me to understand why Boomers have a hard time wrapping their heads around putting themselves out there on social media.
Truthfully, as an educator, I can see the value of acknowledging the efforts children make, even if they are not always ‘winners’. But too much praise in the wrong place is as damaging to one’s self-esteem as too little. Having said this, I believe the self-confidence of many Boomers would have benefitted from a boost had their parents praised them a bit more often. But that wasn’t the Zeitgeist of the time.
I digress. My point has to do with the concept of branding and grasping what it means to have a personal brand. If you look at the two photos of me at the top of this blog, you will see that one is of a woman dressed in local Mayan attire. The other was a shot taken for professional purposes. Which one do you think is the one I want to show up on my website, if one is necessary at all?
(Aside: it took some considerable convincing from Debra for me to put this blog together and use these shots of me).
I think the pictures speak for themselves and illustrate well that a personal brand demonstrates in a picture how you want to be perceived by your audience. You can choose a goofy picture which tells the story of someone who doesn’t take herself too seriously and enjoys having some fun, or one that speaks to a more believable individual whose product or service you would consider seriously.
The very hardest obstacle, in my opinion, is becoming a public persona at an older age. I am learning that in order to be credible in the 2020s, you must show up on social media. It is impossible to avoid public scrutiny online despite your predilection to avoid it. And your personal brand is as important after age 50 as it was when you were younger. Until marketers began using the terminology, those of us who are Boomers never thought of our public personas as ‘personal branding'. Take it from me, I know!
There is considerable irony in job ads that proudly pronounce the employer is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE/AA) but the words in the ad reflect anything but! Recently, I came across one that epitomized this scenario. See if you can spot the bias. For the sake of anonymity, I have changed references but the essence remains.
“Young, enthusiastic person with good marketing skills and technical acumen.
8-10 years of work experience
Manufacturing expertise is preferred
Yup, you got it. The very first word was discriminatory and yet this was an ad from an EOE/AA certified business.
Imagine starting an ad with “white” rather than “young”? Would that have alerted anyone more quickly to the fact that there was bias? It would have been considered shocking in today’s world. However, when references are made to age, no one seems to notice.
Unfortunately, this kind of discrimination is pervasive. Ageism continues to be widely accepted and is so well-tolerated that we often don’t recognize our own internal bias.
Many organizations and businesses are allegedly inclusive. No doubt they are as long as you are indigenous, LBGTQ2S, a woman, disabled, an immigrant or refugee, and ethnically diverse. But, if you are over a certain age and looking for work or you want to stay in your job, you can be sure that your age will come into play.
Age discrimination in both retention and recruitment is a serious obstacle. An American study involving 40,000 fictitious CVs sent in response to advertised vacancies for low-skilled jobs found that applicants between 49 and 51 had 19% fewer callbacks than those aged 29 to 31 with otherwise identical CVs. For the 64-66 age group, the difference was 35%. Source: Age Discrimination and Hiring of Older Workers, Research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco 2017
What is most troubling is the lack of awareness about age diversity and inclusion. Routinely age is not part of the conversation, nor will it ever be if we don’t start to make a fuss and take ageism out of the closet.
Here are a few tips that will help you make a difference:
Observe the types of diversity being advertised. If age is missing, bring it to the attention of the advertiser.
Write to your local MPP or MP to raise their awareness of this gap in diversity and inclusion.
If you are currently employed, check out your employer’s diversity policies. Is age included?
With the shift to an older demographic, ageism is more topical than ever before. We all have a role to play in its elimination.
Do you know the distinctions among “chronological age”, “biological age”, and “subjective age”?
Simply put: “chronological age” refers to the number of birthdays we’ve celebrated; “biological age” is determined by measuring age-related biomarkers which include grip strength, blood pressure, the elasticity of the skin, etc.; and “subjective age” is the age we feel.
Increasingly, I hear contemporaries exclaim that they can’t believe that they are already _____(fill in the blank) years old! Many still feel infinitely younger than their chronological age. Granted, this only applies to those who are fortunate enough to enjoy good health, but the reality is that this generation of older adults (Boomers) is healthier, better educated and more tech-savvy than any previous generation. They do feel younger and their “biological” age is more youthful.
Top Sixty Over Sixty (T60 Strategies) conducted a research study in 2018. We were trying to ascertain how our program, ReSet, impacted feelings of internalized ageism on an entrepreneurial mindset. Our findings were closely aligned with those of other researchers. We concluded that most older adults weren’t aware of their own bias against ageing. They didn’t realize that this internalized feeling was self-limiting. It also impacted health and attitude.
Although not part of our study, we have systematically been collecting data on “subjective age”, finding that most people over 40 consider themselves to be 20 years younger than they are. They also consider old age to be 20 years beyond their actual age. Apparently, these feelings are indicative of our “subjective age” which are quite accurate predictors of our well-being and ageing prognosis. Our gut intuitively signals how cognitively aware we are, how physically able we are and how emotionally stable we are. Feeling more youthful means that we tend to be more optimistic and positive. Having a positive outlook has been proven to make a great difference when it comes to ageing.
Aside from genetic predispositions, we all have the ability to improve our chances of ageing well and actively. If we embrace healthy habits, eating well, exercising and seeing the cup as half full rather than half empty, we can control some of the variables that will affect us later in life. The first challenge is to recognize our own bias and then to understand how to change it.
Last week the Star published an article that I submitted, entitled “The (Old) Elephant in the Room”. Needless to say, this was very satisfying to me personally. What I hadn’t expected was the response I’d get.
Not long ago the Toronto Star published my article entitled “The (Old) Elephant in the Room”. For those of you who didn’t see it, you can find the link here or in the news section of our website. Needless to say, this was very satisfying to me personally. What I hadn’t expected was the response I’d get from many of the readers.
The subject obviously struck a chord with a silent segment of the readership. It ignited an unintended conversation about how many people out there have been and are affected by ageism. I heard from people who have cases in front of the Human Rights Tribunal currently; others who have been denied professional development and opportunities for promotion as well as from all those out there who are desperately seeking work but can’t find any.
Although the article resonated with many, I couldn’t help but think how profoundly sad it is that so many talented, capable and enthusiastic people are being denied a chance to fulfil their potential and at the same time contribute to Canada’s economic and social prosperity. Their work lives have been shortened, usually at around age 65 because of a number (established when average lifespans were 62) that describes nothing more than chronological age.
We wouldn’t ever say that a child is too young to be a genius. Why do we generalize and believe that one is too old to work, create, be productive? I am not naive. There are some professions that don’t lend themselves to continuing in the same capacity as earlier in a career. Clearly, if you have developed a tremor in your hands, your professional time as a surgeon is over. However, more roles than not are not as limiting at older stages in life. All that is required is the will on the part of employers to accommodate where necessary and make a shift. The research states repeatedly that these small accommodations and retaining older workers improve overall productivity.
As I found last week at yet another conference, diversity doesn’t seem to include age. It is still elusive and a misunderstood factor for most companies, organizations and governments. We have so successfully segregated age into silos and internalized age bias, that we can’t find our way out. If we don’t start looking more closely at the demographic shift that is already upon us, we will be even less prepared for the future of work. It’s time for all to start speaking up more loudly. Canada’s future prosperity depends on it.
All signs point to a future workforce that will span as many as four generations, but what can you do right now to stay competitive in a labour market that often favours youth? I asked Robynn Storey of Storyline Resumes to give her top three pieces of advice for job seekers over 50. As an experienced human resources person and LinkedIn influencer, you may be surprised at what she has to say.
Robynn’s advice to older workers:
Don't worry about your age, worry about how you are communicating your value. Never dumb down your resume or experience because you want to 'fit' into a lower-level job. Be you and don't be humble. You are accomplished. Show it and communicate it on your resume.
For your resume, only go into details that cover about 15 to 20 years of your history. At the end of your resume, you can list a few more jobs under an 'early career summary' including companies and job titles, but eliminating dates. Eliminate all dates on your education as well.
Use your network. One of the many great things about getting older is that you have built a strong network of peers, counterparts, friends, co-workers and influencers. Don't be afraid to ask for introductions or favours. You've earned it! And it is the best way to leapfrog other candidates and uncover the hidden job market.
If you’d like some direct support on your resume or LinkedIn profile from Robynn or her team you can find her on LinkedIn or you can call her at 724-832-8845.
For entrepreneurs, the job search may be over, but interviews with investors, lenders, and clients may just be starting. Check out T60’s Entrepreneur Interviews for tips on getting ready and staying sharp in interviews.
The “Knowledge Doubling Curve” is a term that refers to the length of time it takes for information to double. According to Buckminster Fuller, who coined the expression, until 1900 human knowledge doubled every 100 years. By the end of WWII, “doubling” was taking place every 25 years. Today, on average, human knowledge is doubling every 13 months, and soon human knowledge will start doubling every 12 hours.
Who can possibly keep up? It’s no wonder that when older adults reflect on their past, they frequently fall back onto familiar adages such as “when I was your age” or “in the good old days”. Life wasn’t as complicated and change occurred much more slowly. Some things were more straightforward and simpler than they are today. This doesn’t mean, however, that harkening back to those olden times was necessarily ‘better’. They were different.
Recently, I had the great pleasure of being in the company of Jane Goodall on two occasions. At both events, Dr. Goodall referred to her past with a bit of nostalgia, and in the next moment, counter with how much more she is able to accomplish in today’s world. She is the embodiment of someone who is ageing positively. She understands her chronological age (85), embraces it and seeks new learning and experience wherever she lands. She travels 300 days/year. She talks about her eventual death matter of factly, understanding there is less and less time left to champion her cause. She is determined to make the most of every experience and encounter to ensure that her message of hope for our planet is heard.
Her ambassadors of hope are children and youth. She respects and cherishes her connections with them and understands the value of listening to them. She actively engages with them in order to understand their perspectives and priorities, learning from them the way they learn from her. It is her lived experience that makes her exceptional.
We may not all be icons like Jane Goodall, but we all have choices to make about how we both age and engage with the world. While reflecting on times past is important, staying actively involved in the present is vital for future health and well-being. Seeking new experiences, interacting with younger people and moving safely outside comfort zones is necessary to keep those ‘good old days’ in perspective, and to ensure there are future good days too.
Organizational culture plays a critical role in determining productivity, creativity, engagement and other factors of success. When bullies find fertile ground at work, it can spell disaster for an organization’s short and long term goals. In addition to the legal ramifications of bullying at work, the level of disruption it causes not only undermines performance but can actually encourage good employees to leave or it can sabotage their good work.
Given the cost of bullying, why are bullies allowed to work, let alone, lead organizations?
Unrecognized: The first challenge is recognizing that bullying is happening. In competitive organizations, employees are often encouraged to use highly disruptive or even combative tactics. Being cut-throat is not just tolerated, but rewarded. In that type of work environment, it is easy to slip over the line and allow aggression to leak into the day to day operations of an organization. At this point, it becomes a destructive behaviour.
Bullies are also often unaware of their own impact on colleagues. Harassing comments can be interpreted as “jokes” or good-natured kidding around. As we often see in our work, ageist comments are regularly used and viewed as acceptable despite their damaging impact. This is why self-awareness and understanding others are the cornerstones of successful professional and personal development. They allow the individual to check unwanted behaviour before it becomes a problem.
To avoid unintended (or unrecognized bullying), identify bullying behaviour and implement a zero-tolerance policy. Provide examples of what bullying behaviour looks like and be clear on what the consequences will be if the behaviour takes place. Make sure you follow through and that alternative behaviours are suggested. For some insight into examples of bullying behaviour, take a look at the sample list provided by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety provided HERE.
Favouritism: Treating everyone fairly seems like an obvious requirement of workplaces, but sometimes a structural hierarchy can lead to preferential treatment that extends into social spaces. Challenges can erupt when you have unbalanced job designs that result in workload issues or role conflict. This can not only result in giving the preferred employees a disproportionate sense of entitlement but in some cases can result in abuse of other employees creating an unhealthy internal competition.
Conflict Avoidance: When bullying behaviour does happen, ignoring it will effectively reinforce the behaviour. Don’t delay when issues emerge. Address bullying behaviours as soon as possible to avoid future incidents. For tips on how to manage these conversations, check out our article, Tackling Tough Talks
Anxiety: How do you talk about yourself? If you use negative or self-deprecating language to reference yourself or your work, you could be setting the tone for how colleagues or employers engage with you. Some research shows that anxiety, self-doubt, depression and even shyness can result in more frequent incidences of bullying.
Unfortunately approaches for reducing bullying have had inconclusive results. The most significant workplace success has been in increasing awareness of bullying behaviours. The moral of the story is: it’s better to establish an environment that prohibits bullying before it starts!
Increasingly, I am reading articles about our extended lifespans and how these will impact economies around the world. By 2050, there will be more people over the age of 65 than any other age group. Authors who tout a pessimistic perspective and emphasize how damaging the grey tsunami will be are mistaken; they have been proven wrong, time and time again. In fact, living longer has opened up what is commonly referred to as the Longevity Market.
Stria News, a media platform for the longevity market, refers to the longevity economy as “working toward a society that values, supports and serves older people.” In other words, anything that supports the 50+ population is part of this economy. It encompasses absolutely every sector and every service area from housing and learning to fashion and financial services.
On August 23rd Chris Farrell author of the Purpose and a Paycheck: Finding Meaning, Money and Happiness in the Second Half of Life wrote that “the American economy would expand by over $815 billion if the U.S. increased its employment of the 55-to-64-year age group to New Zealand’s level according to PwC’s Golden Age Index.” This prompted me to take a look at the PwC Age Index which, among other OECD comparisons, compares how Canada fares when it comes to the employment of its older workers. Naively, I thought we would be close to the top of the chart, but Canada ranks 18th out of 36 OECD countries. Nothing really to be all that proud about.
Increasing older worker employment rates in OECD countries to the level of New Zealand (the top score in this index at 78%) has the potential of increasing GDP to 3.5 trillion. In other words, if more countries embraced new and more flexible structural and policy factors such as flexible pensions, varied working patterns and schedules, benefits for caregiving, a higher retirement age and more retraining or upskilling of older employees, our world would enjoy much healthier economies.
Canada is facing a shortage of skilled labour in the coming decades. This shortage could be minimized if, and that’s a big if, the value and potential of our ageing population were acknowledged instead of diminished and disrespected. Our world is getting older and we can benefit from the experiences of countries who have been managing older populations longer than we have. We have an opportunity to do better, we just have to learn from those older than us.
For North Americans, September is back to school season. Ads for school supplies dominate television and internet sites and despite our age of technology, stores are still filled with books, binders and other traditional classroom tools. Thinking about learning, however, shouldn’t be limited to “students”. Regular professional development is good for employers, employees and customers.
Continuing professional development ensures that employees keep apace with evolving methodologies, standards and knowledge. It can also mean that employees are continuing to contribute to their teams and business by introducing more effective approaches and depending on the nature of your business, perhaps more safety.
One of the limiting factors around maintaining regular professional development is cost. The cost of courses, the cost of time and perhaps the cost of travel. While not every opportunity can come at a lower price, you can find ways to mitigate costs and stay informed and up to date. Consider the following ideas when the budget is low or it’s not a big-ticket year.
Free Lunch and Learns: Numerous tech and other entrepreneurial hubs across the country offer courses at lunchtime. In Ottawa, Invest Ottawa schedules numerous free or reasonably priced educational courses at their facility every month. You can check out their calendar HERE. They also promote activities provided by others on their site so it’s a great one-stop-shop.
Bring in Professionals: If the cost of taking your staff to conferences is too high, then bring in professionals to deliver workshops. Using your own site or organizing your own rental space can offer a much cheaper alternative while still providing high-quality content. Look to professional associations for ideas on what to offer and don’t forget to check out Top Sixty services HERE https://www.topsixtyoversixty.com/Programs.
Do it for Yourself: Don’t overlook homegrown talent. If you have employees who have knowledge that would be worth sharing, then consider creating a lunch and learn series where individual or paired employees teach their colleagues. Keep in mind that not everyone will be comfortable presenting; make sure that employees have the support they need to make the experience a positive one for everyone.
Online Courses: Online courses offer a flexible and cost-effective way to continue learning. There are numerous courses offered on a range of topics by recognized universities directly or through sites like Udemy or OntarioLearn. Some courses even offer certification. There are also many online courses offered privately by subject experts on platforms like ThinkifIc or Teachable. You can also consider creating online courses from your lunch and learns that will allow everyone to access or revisit content at their leisure. Remember that people have different learning styles and not all online courses will offer the flexibility some people need to learn effectively.
Below is a list of some of the sites to check out for online learning opportunities. Money doesn’t have to be the reason why professional development is halted. It may simply require initiative and curiosity.