by Tina Martin
Useful tips on networking for enterprising seniors looking to start a business or launch a nonprofit.
If you plan on being successful then networking must be part of your plan. If you don’t network, you miss out on critical connections within your existing and potential community.
Successful networking creates opportunities to forge strong relationships with other people that could help you on your journey. You could connect with a mentor who can guide you through the startup phase. A future customer who will place a large order. Or a soon-to-be employee that can support your efforts.
However, with all the technological changes over the years, it’s common for seniors to feel overwhelmed. Luckily, these changes aren’t as difficult as they seem, and seniors can still network with ease. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here is an idea to start.
Tips on Networking Online
One of the simplest ways to network is get online on one of the many social media platforms. Join a group, engage, comment, and always add value before asking. The ideal social media platform, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube or even TikTok, will depend on the business audience. Through social media, you can connect with other members of your local community, city and county leaders or other small business or nonprofit operators who may support your effort.
Additionally, having a social media presence for your business or nonprofit helps you connect with customers or members of the public who may support your cause. It gives you an easy way to interact with them, increasing the odds that you’ll secure their business, donations, or other kinds of support.
Overall, 72 percent of Americans use social media. However, among the 65+ crowd, only 45 percent have profiles on those platforms. If you don’t have any social media presence, start with Facebook. The site has around 200 million active monthly users in the U.S., and 69 percent of adults say they use the platform.
Plus, Facebook groups are an excellent tool. You can find ones for your local community, some dedicated to small business ownership, and others that focus on nonprofits. It’s a great way to become a part of a broader community. Sharing your experience and knowledge and getting advice especially during the startup phase.
If broadening your business’s social media presence is more than you want to handle on your own, you can hire a freelancer to do it. Just search “social media marketing pricing” on sites like Fiverr or Upwork and you will find someone who can help take your business’s social media presence to the next level.
Keeping Relationships Strong
Successful networking isn’t just about making new connections; it’s about cultivating long-term relationships. It’s also a great way to build customer relationships and show you care by responding quickly to their messages and concerns.
Make staying in touch a priority and, when you reach out, spend most of your time checking in with the other person.
By concentrating on the strength of the connection over the support a person could provide, you forge stronger relationships. Then, when you do need help, the odds that they’ll be there for you go up dramatically.
Other Tips for Starting Your Business or Nonprofit
If you’re starting a business or a nonprofit, there are a few key things you’ll need to do.
For example, you may need to choose a business structure, like an LLC. That way, you can reduce your liability and simplify your finances. Additionally, you’ll need to secure the proper licensing and permits to operate in your area.
Another step you’ll need to take if you are in the US is getting an EIN. The IRS uses the EIN to identify your organization. Without an EIN, traditional businesses may have issues with their taxes, and nonprofits may not be able to file for their exemptions. So, make sure you get yours squared away early, allowing you to get your crucial part of your financials in order right from the beginning.
Technology may have changed the ways in which we network, but it still comes down to friendliness and professionalism -- meaning you can network every bit as well as the younger generations. In fact, thanks to your maturity and work ethic, you might have an advantage.
Building and nurturing relationships is critical for sustained business success. So, get to work and show them how it’s done!