By Brenda Johnson, Work, Careers and Job @40+

Who you know is vital to maintaining and cultivating a career at any stage of your work journey. Networking becomes critical during the Baby Boomer years during the time when many people would rather not bother attending events and meeting new people. With a full-time job, family responsibilities and carving out time for you; anything more than accepting a LinkedIn connection feels like an intrusion.

Experienced workers are more likely to need a personal connection to make an upward move or to quickly move into a new role. Power networking is not about attending every networking group or being present on all social media. Effective networking is having well-regarded contacts who can and will make an introduction, recommend your work, write a letter or an e-mail on your behalf. It really is about the person being willing to take action on your behalf.

These 5 critical success factors for power networking could help you shorten your job search and keep you on the short list for opportunities:

1. Approach networking as an activity with mutual benefits. As in any relationship you have to give as much ( or more) than you take. Your networking will backfire if you only contact people when you need something.
2. Develop an authentic connection. Try to engage with your connections at least annually and closer contact will require more frequent contact to maintain a bond.
3. Privatize your personal and separate your career networking.
4. Network with people you truly enjoy being around that share your values. It makes connecting with people more likely. Don’t feel as is if you must confirm everyone who reaches out for a connection. The “Ignore” button is there for a reason, use it.
5. Diversify your contacts. Network with others in your profession at other companies and within professional organizations as well as others outside your line of work that you meet socially and through volunteering or hobbies.

We all know that charismatic person that knows everyone and networks easily. It doesn’t come easily to everyone and sometimes you have to make an effort to attend events and update professional social media platforms. In the long-term it is worth the effort. If you wait until you need to make a job change or want to move up in your organization, the relationships are already in place.

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