Stay Connected: How to Maintain Personal and Professional Bonds
Social and professional connections are important for seniors, particularly when it comes to having a fulfilling personal life, and feeling like a vital contributor to society. This is especially critical if you're looking to start a post-retirement business or nonprofit, or even find a volunteer opportunity. There are a number of ways for staying connected, and it’s key to note it’s not just a matter of friendship or collegial relationships - it can also impact how you think, feel, and live.
Why Connections Are Important
Staying connected to others is important as we age. According to the Eldercare Alliance, having friends and participating in social functions contributes to better overall mental, emotional, and physical health. Too often, seniors start to lose human connections when they retire, move, or experience the loss of a partner. Staying connected to others creates a social bond in which people look out for and support one another. For example, you’re more likely to exercise if you do it with a friend, and if you’re part of a social or business group, you’ll feel more involved and part of your community.
Join Industry Associations
If you’re still in a professional-over-leisure frame of mind, most large-scale national industries have smaller state and local branches that offer networking, socialization, and business-building opportunities. This can be a way to stay involved in a particular line of work even after you’ve retired. You may opt to volunteer your time, or even serve in a consulting capacity. Your local Better Business Bureau or small business development center can help you get connected, as can reaching out to the Senior Corps of Retired Executives. A quick online search of groups connected to your industry can also help you identify new opportunities.
Become Part of a Business Group
Organizations like chambers of commerce provide opportunities for meeting people from a wide range of different businesses and occupations. Chambers often provide networking and social opportunities, as well as workshops, training, and seminars around a variety of topics and interests. Chambers also offer business-building tools. This can help keep you connected to existing contacts, as well as provide ways to meet new people. You may also be called on to share your expertise with others, particularly up-and-comers in your industry, through things like committee work and advisory boards.
Nurture Old Connections
Make an effort to stay in touch with former bosses and employees. A site like LinkedIn can allow you to build connections and stay apprised of what former colleagues are doing. Not only is this wise for future business opportunities, but for keeping up with people you've had professional relationships with. You may be in a position to offer referrals, make recommendations, support a cause, or otherwise stay connected at a level that's comfortable for you. According to Healthy and Free Today, you might also consider keeping your mind sharp and learning new things by going back to school, taking a class, or taking up a new hobby or pastime.
Maintain Your Friendships
As people move about, change names or change jobs, it can be easy to lose track of them, but social media and online search tools have made it easier than ever to find, reconnect, and stay connected to people from our past. Ever wondered what your high school lab partner is up to today? Do you ever think about what became of your junior prom date, or the colleague you worked with during your first job out of college? Reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances could be good, both from a reminiscing standpoint and potentially even for business opportunities.
Many virtual tools allow us to stay connected in ways we never would have imagined 30 or 40 years ago. With a few simple clicks, you could be on a Zoom call with your next-door neighbor from third grade if you're so inclined. Relationships with people of all ages and backgrounds are important as we grow older, and having an active social network can be beneficial for everything from emotional support to job leads.
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This article was created by Mary Shannon of SeniorsMeet.org. Thanks Mary!
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