Networking and making connections can feel counter-intuitive, especially when it is career-driven. But having a rapport with someone in the boardroom is just as genuine and can be even more lucrative than in your own personal or social life, and networking is often key to climbing the corporate ladder. It is something that needs to continue throughout your working life and can provide more opportunity than career skills you may have picked up.
Because of this, we have sourced 3 different types of connections a career-minded person should make by the age of 40, and ways to make that happen, below!
By the age of 40, it is likely that you have been exposed to many networking situations in regards to your career. Perhaps even your run-of-the-mill social interactions have proven fruitful for gaining influential and thought-provoking contacts. It is important, however, that you make sure to build a rapport with thought leaders in your industry, or in an industry that can boost your personal or business life.
Thought leaders are people who have been successfully engaged in an industry and can create or predict trends, have created their own programs or methods of teaching, and are often walking encyclopedias when it comes to their field of study or interest. Some influential businesses in the United States now have whole positions and departments dedicated to thought leadership, so it could quite literally be someone’s job. These people are abundant in many areas of their lives, often socially, financially, and otherwise. In fact, you may be one if you’ve been making impacts in your industry. Consider these 3 principles if you’re looking to engage with thought leaders or become one yourself.
Having people with larger bank accounts and generous wallets can often really help you when you need to get your company, client, or colleague a leg up. Finances often come between a lucrative idea and its creation, so having people in your corner who can offer low-interest loans, invest in your ideas, or chip in when it comes to fundraising and marketing needs can really help drive abundance for your company. People with a lot of money also tend to be well connected, providing additional opportunities and connections to be made.
To truly drive the point of investing home, it is also very important to have sweat equity investors at all stages of your adult life. Perhaps a bulk of your network cannot offer financial support, big wig connections, or other opportunities that are only available to those with money, but they might be the type of people who can put in the work in other places. This often looks like people who have large networks themselves crowdsourcing financial support or donations. It is people who can build, craft, create, and pivot ideas to be the catalyst for something great. Keep your eyes open for people willing to put in sweat equity, as this could benefit you both in your personal life and with your career goals and ideas.
3. Your pit crew
This should be an obvious connection or resource to find for yourself at any age, but it is especially crucial to have a solid support system by age 40. And perhaps it’s a little insensitive to refer to your support system as your “pit crew” like you’re lapping people at the Indy500 and simply need someone to change your tires. What this really means is that you need people on your side, to gas you up when you’re running on empty.
Sometimes this is the family you were born into, the family you created, your friend who shares a lot of the same interests and career or life goals as you do, the acquaintance at spin class who you debrief with over a smoothie. Everyone deserves to have established consistency by this age, and really truly benefits from it. Sometimes that simply means people around to help level your cortisol and stress response. It can be a college roommate who knows your deepest desires and is trying to keep you on track, your relative who lives vicariously through you and always has an encouraging word, a team at work that can be there to lift you up and compensate for days when you are drained, or even a literal hype man.
Whatever support looks like to you, that’s the type of relationship you need to cultivate. Be honest with yourself, make a list of non-negotiables like you would for any relationship, and really make sure to find the people that show up for you the way you need them to. Just don’t let everyone in the workspace rely on one person to be the cheerleader, as this is often an impossible task. Spread the joy around!
Who knows what could happen if you start networking around today? Besides Zoom events specifically created for networking, there are digital recreational classes, professional courses, and more that will make it a more natural and fun experience. Just be sure to maximize your success rate with these helpful tips!