Building a digital presence after age 50: 8 lessons

by Barrie Hopson on October 11, 2010 · 4 comments

in Marketing,Networking,New Technology,portfolio careers,Social Media

Peter Osborne has started a very interesting discussion on this topic on our linkedin portfolio careers group. He also has a fuller posting in which he discusses these 8 ‘lessons’ that he has learned. I was particularly interested as a couple of weeks ago I did a keynote speech specifically on portfolio careers for the over 50’s and in 2 days time I am doing another one for 200 accountants aged over 50 and who wish to explore portfolio careers as a possible career pattern. One of the items that I discuss concerns what you need to do to market yourself when you are over 50.

Marketing your brand when you are over 50

  • I make the point that the advantage of being a mature worker is that you bring a lot of stability, experience, presence, knowledge and wisdom to the table. Personal branding is  key these days. It’s what makes you stand out from the crowd. Make sure you get noticed for all the right reasons.
  • It is crucial that you are clear on your motivated skills, your values and your passions. That applies to any age but is especially important here as you will be more time limited. Sorry to sound depressing!
  • Again – relevant to any age-  but especially here because of  potential age stereotyping. You really need to focus on the the first impression you make? Appearance, voice, face. Decide what fits for your brand. And smile! It is likely to be reciprocated and the positive psychology researchers tell us that the physiological act of smiling is hard wired into our neural network so that you will also feel happier. Which means you will make a better impression.  Especially as we know that rightly or wrongly people form these impressions within 30 seconds of meeting you.  They will make  assumptions about everything from your education and your wealth, your credibility and your success, your trustworthiness and your believability – even your sexuality and desirability.
  • Create the marketing materials used to communicate to employers: business cards, a cv, cover letter, references document, web site, blog, or work portfolio. Google me is the new business card. Over 77% of employers will Google a job candidate; 35% of those candidates won’t get the job because the boss finds negative or explicit content on social media Web pages. Research your digital footprint.  Try for something different. Katie and I both use a special bookmark designed to promote our book and containing the crucial contact information about us.
  • You must understand and be familiar with new technology. Get your grandchildren to teach you! Exhibit how you stay on top of technology. For example, establish or update your LinkedIn profile or develop a web portfolio to show your ability to incorporate cutting-edge marketing tools and put the URL on your résumé.
  • Talk about new things that you are enjoying learning about – as that is one of the other stereotypes about older people.
  • Build a network before you need it. 70 percent of participating executives found their current positions by networking. Yet professionals tend to network only if and when looking for their next positions. 46 – 60 year olds spent three times as long networking as their younger colleagues. And before our Gen Y friends comment that this is simply because older people are slower that is not what the results show!

It would be interesting to get other tips for this age group. I will of course credit you if I put them into my talks!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Neil October 12, 2010 at 7:26 am

Not sure I see a distinction with age – why over 50? This same advice applies to anyone. And not just for portfolio careers either. I think the recruitment process and recruitment agencies are way behind the curve in relying on just a CV – for any type of employment.

2 Eileen Ball October 12, 2010 at 4:31 pm

I reccomend getting some professional portrait photographs taken. A professional portrait photographer will be able to provide you with a selection of pictures that let your personality shine through and show you at your best. My web designer tells me people click away from many websites in seconds, so a good photo on the homepage is an asset.

3 Barrie Hopson October 13, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Excellent suggestion from Eileen. Katie as an ex TV presenter has the most beautiful collection of professional photos. Me with my working class background has difficulty spending that kind of money so I make do with one my wife took! You pays your money and takes your choice!
I agree with Neil that most of these points are relevant to all age groups but there are some special nuances with the over 50’s as they are still facing discrimination on a large scale so the interpretation becomes a little different.

4 Eileen Ball October 14, 2010 at 7:43 am

Interesting, my own experience is that moving from a salaried employment in a large organisation with a pre-determined audience to a portfolio career was a shift in mindset. I am over 50 and building a digital presence is an ongoing learning curve for me.

I am sure everyone can benefit from your tips, but I agree that the over 50’s might find the ideas especially useful.

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