Networking Strategies for Different Career Phases

Duane H. wrote,

As I think about ‘retiring’ in 2019, I’m wondering how my networking strategies will change. I won’t be networking to find a job or move up in my career, but I will want to stay connected with friends and professional contacts.  That got me thinking about networking strategies in different phases of one’s career. How is networking different in retirement? Or in the mid-life mentoring phase of one’s career? Or in a fledgling apprenticeship role?

Duane, certainly as we move from phase to phase in our careers – not to mention our lives in general – our relationships and roles change.  Our needs, interests and experiences often dictate the ways in which we approach our interactions.  Plus, depending on life and career stage, we may have more or less to offer to others.  The way you show up to these interactions can help to enhance and enrich relationships irrespective of the stage you are presently operating within.

For those in the early parts of their careers, you may be seeking mentorship, professional guidance and direction.  Seek out those individuals whose wisdom and experience set can offer you a window into possibilities for your own future.  Listen – a lot – and incorporate the ideas that your more mature contact offers in ways that make sense for your journey.  Additionally, find others in your same stage of life with whom you can interact and serve as a peer mentor.  Having one another as sounding boards can be quite useful.

If you are mid-stream in your careers, you will also want peers in whom to confide.  Additionally, you may wish to bookend your relationship base with both mentors and mentees – that is, more experienced executives who can offer insights into achieving the pinnacle of your career AND less experienced professionals whose careers you can help to guide within or outside of your own organization.

And, of course, anyone who is in the advanced stages of their careers is likely thinking about legacy and what comes next.  What do you want to be remembered for?  What difference do you want to make in the world?  What are you going to do now to occupy your time?  Remember – you’re not gone!  No need to recede to the shadows.  Continue to cultivate the relationships you have – those friendships are real.  Focus on mentoring the next generation and the generation after that.  Share your wisdom and guidance.  Help set others on a course for success.  Invest your time, talent and treasure in ways that are meaningful for you and for those who you care about.

Whatever stage of life you’re in, relationships are still mutually beneficial – everyone has insights and ideas to offer.  Whoever you find yourself sitting across from in a networking interaction, I guarantee you have information and value to exchange that will leave you feeling more fulfilled than prior to your discussion.

What relationships do you have in your life that clearly delineate life stages?  Has someone been particularly helpful to you?  How so?  To whom have you served as a mentor or Sherpa?  What did you do or say or establish to set them on their path?  Your insights and advice would be welcomed; be sure to comment at

4 thoughts to “Networking Strategies for Different Career Phases”

  1. In response to Duane’ comment about networking in encore years, I retired the first time 15 years ago and have had a series of full/part time gigs and volunteer experiences since. I still work part time and have 2-3 volunteer roles. My networking skills have been enhanced as I am not just dealing with one large customer in my previous life, but meeting new people and finding new contacts in the community for paid and volunteer roles. I use LinkedIn extensively and have connected with many community leaders through this social media tool. You can use this tool to find the next thing – it could be paid or a volunteer role or both.

    1. Love your comment, Jon! Thank you for sharing your experiences and for the LinkedIn suggestion. It is spot on — people at every stage of their careers should utilize it as a tool. Thanks for taking time to post.

  2. Alana writes and speaks about professional networking in ways no one else does. I’ve had coffee with her, been in the audience when she has spoken, read her blog, and even purchased and read her book. So, as I recently wrestled with my networking strategies, I emailed her a question and here, for the benefit of all, is her thoughtful response. As Thanksgiving approaches, I give thanks that I am connected to Alana and the other valued friends and contacts in my network.

    1. Grateful to you, Duane, for your friendship, support and enthusiasm for Coffee Lunch Coffee. Thank you for being part of this community. Wishing you a very meaningful Thanksgiving holiday with your family.

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