Following is part 3 of an interview Next For Me’s Jeff Tidwell had with John Tarnoff. John came out of the entertainment industry where they ‘eat their young” as he says, and decided to get a degree in psychology and see how he could help people who were looking at reinvention after 50, specifically as it relates to work.
He wrote the book “Boomer Reinvention, How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50” and has a career coaching practice and is a nationally recognized speaker and writer on these topics.
In Part 1 of the interview, John discussed the four stages of a career, stopping ageism by being honest in our business interactions, the uncomfortable reality of finances over 65, and intergenerational interactions. In Part 2 of the the interview John discusses: Redefining Who You are in the Workplace, Introspection, Overcoming Fear, and The Three Tiers of Networking.
The 3 Tiers of Networking
NFM: You mentioned Linkedin and networking becomes an important piece of this. And in this age of social media your public persona matters. I know you speak about networking and how that changes while you’re going through this process. Tell us, tell us how that changes and how you use your existing network and create a new one.
JT: It’s all about the network. It’s always been about the network. 85 percent of jobs are filled through referrals, not through resumes. It’s more so today than it’s ever been because the recruiting pipeline is overfilled with job applicants. And this is why those of you listening who are applying for jobs are finding that people are not getting back to you when you send in a resume. If you haven’t done this in 10 or 20 years, you’re expecting to get a call back and get an interview and it’s not happening and you’re frustrated and you want to give up. It’s because it’s all about the network.
One thing I would say about networking with people is that networking is not about taking. It’s about giving. And your job is to figure out how you can first give to the people in and around your network, whether it is putting people together, connecting people to one another, whether it’s supplying interesting information about your field. You have to be always be giving. ABG is my little acronym for that. This goes into the great value of trying to build a career at this particular point in history. Not only is social media a great way to connect to people, it’s a great way to brand yourself and to burnish your reputation for whatever it is that you decide to do.
This is why the last step in my process that I talked about, at the very end of the book, is about being a thought leader. And you and I are thought leaders. We are here because we are publishing content on a regular basis about this field. We are building our network, our reputation, and building our identity. So that at any point someone wants to go to Google and look us up, there’s going to be a string of information that all points in this one direction about what our expertise is. We’ve spent years establishing it and if you’re going out to develop a particular niche and you figured out what that niche is and how it relates to your business, then you have an opportunity and really a responsibility to engage as a thought leader.
I’ll tell you a little story about this that’s from my book. There’s a guy who I interviewed whose name is John and he is a financial advisor. Before that he was an industrial products salesman for many, many years. He used his day trading hobby as the basis of getting out of the very unstable business that he was in. When he got fired, he was ready to make the flip [to his financial advisory business]. He started a podcast. The reason he started the podcast was because he was reading some financial columnist on a Sunday and they made a statement that he really disagreed with. He was searching the internet to find someone who disagreed and he couldn’t find anyone. So he decided, “Hey, I’ve got a microphone. I can put out my own reply.”
And he did. He put this podcast together and then some friends of his said, “Hey, that was really good. What else have you got?” And he said, “OK, well I’ve got some other ideas.” So he started this podcast and within about 18 months he became one of the top 10 podcasts on iTunes in financial services. Because no one was saying quite what he was saying – and that drove traffic [to his business], right?
All of a sudden people are saying, “Wow, you know, this guy knows what he’s talking about.” The other thing is, he’s in the business of trying to get people to sign up because they trust his financial acumen and his judgment. Now he has podcasts going back, I guess at this point, it’s maybe two, three years, where you can, if you wanted to study his financial, predictive acumen and understanding of the economy, you could go back and listen to those podcasts and get a sense of how his mind works. If you resonate with the way he works and the way he talks, you’re going to sign up with him.
So that example applies to all of us in the businesses that we’re trying to do. How do you differentiate yourself? How do you stand out? Whether it is setting up a free blog on wordpress.com or blogger or using your LinkedIn profile, as I do, to clip news and then I post three times a week on LinkedIn, Facebook, and I engage in conversations with people about the news that relates to this business that I’m in. And then I blog. So I’ve got engagement going right and left that I can’t keep up with. It’s great because this is the world that I live in, that I love, that I’m committed to and I’m meeting people, getting other ideas, putting people together with one another. And I’m getting clients.
NFM: I call it “always be publishing.” The other side of it is if you begin writing and talking about what it is you’re doing, you’re actually thinking through the process of what you’re doing. It crystallizes things and your process and you get better as the days go by.
JT: That’s why I wrote the book. I had done this Tedx talk in 2012 about reinvention and the idea of the five reinvention steps based on my psychology background and my loopy business background. It was about how to recover from setbacks and all that. And then I started blogging and seeing clients in 2014. I thought, well, I’ve got to write the book because I’ve got to put it down [on paper], I’ve got to put this bible down [on paper] of what I do and what I know and share this with people so they have a clear sense of what they’re signing up for, etc. etc. So it all works together.
NFM: Let me put you on the spot then. What are the biggest barriers that people over 50 have for making their next move professionally?
JT: I think it goes back to the fear that you talked about before. This sense of fear of change, fear of taking entrepreneurial responsibility for their career. It really is about your willingness. To forgive and forget the past and really entertain the future from a completely open mindset. If you don’t have a lot of experience with career ups and downs, it’s going to be challenging.
I do think you should rely on the closest people that you have in your network. I divide a network into tiers, There’s a silver tier, which is basically everyone in your rolodex, (remember the rolodex?), who has some kind of relevance to your business. Your gold tier is the people that you have worked with, who you’re in contact with, who have direct relevance to what you want to do and could help you and people that you’re working with. You can have lunch with them and strategize. You can ask them for connections.
Then your platinum tier is this closely held Board of Directors level, really intimate, close friends. These are the people who you can call it 3:00 AM when you’re having a panic attack about what’s going on. Whatever that crisis may be these are the people who are going to really help you through. So you want to be able to cultivate these levels, these tiers in your network to get the support you need to reconcile the past, to plan for the future, to build yourself enough of a ramp towards your future incarnation, whatever that may be. It may mean you have to do some consulting on the side to take a job that’s maybe not particularly the best for you, but it puts food on the table for the time being.
You’ve got to be practical about this, but I think you always have to think and feel strategically that this has got to lead towards your own sustainable entrepreneurial practice. Whether you end up as a 1099 consultant at the end of the day or a W-2 employee, it doesn’t really matter. It’s about that value proposition.
Visit John’s Website: JohnTarnoff.com