You’re only as old as you feel . . . and sometimes networking makes me feel really old

Have you ever been to a networking event where you are older than the average age by at least 20 years?

Where you are the oldest person sitting at your table by far (though you have tried unsuccessfully to maneuver yourself into a mixed-age group)?

Where you are the only woman whose heels are less than three inches tall?

That’s happened to me . . . and I hate it!

Don’t get me wrong. The younger people have been nice to me and have included me in their conversations. And I’m rather experienced at networking and handle the situation much more comfortably today than I did in years past.

I’ve got nothing to complain about and even some happy memories to relish.

But it still feels weird.

As December rolls around, I’m more aware than ever of groups that skew much younger than me as the programming veers more towards holiday parties and happy hours than educational lectures.

Before I decide to attend an unknown group, I prefer to do a little research. I look at the website of the organization, especially the photos. I may look at the LinkedIn / Facebook / Twitter profiles of officers. If the event is at a bar, I may look at the site’s website. I scroll through the membership directory (if available and I have access) to see if I recognize any names.

Sometimes I attend anyway if the program is really, really good.

But not usually.

I’ve been reading a fair amount about networking but I’m not seeing this issue addressed.

What’s been your experience?

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7 responses to “You’re only as old as you feel . . . and sometimes networking makes me feel really old

  1. I sometimes feel I am the oldest person on Twitter. I am learning a lot from young people like yourself. However, saying that, would like to meet more people online who are in business and over 60.

  2. While I am not quite 60, it’s not that far off. I have a feeling we are more or less contemporaries.

    I don’t feel much older than the 25-year-olds. It’s simply that the technicalities of my life are different and the daily-life details do not match up.

  3. Pull up your rocker, Granny, and let’s sit on the porch and Twitter!

    Actually, I think it ties in to your earlier comments about gigonomics. (Do love that word! Thanks for coining it!) There may, in fact, be a disproportionate number of “young” people at these events because networking and short-term employement are the career paths of the future. People in our age range are typically permanently employed. Not as many starting or continuing to develop their own businesses, unless they’re newly unemployed.

    How many of those (newly unemployed) are you seeing? Any trends?

  4. Recent exchange at the “20/30 Club” :

    Speaker: How old are you?
    Me: 44.
    Speaker: What brought you here?
    Me: The 31-year-old who was supposed to come with me canceled.
    Crowd: [guffaws]

    I’m still basically about 25 in my head and I have recently been mistaken for an Oberlin student at Parents’ Weekend, so confusion and hilarity is par for the course.

    Seriously, I don’t let age or cultural differences bother me. My Spanish is awful but I have good contacts in the National Society of Hispanic MBAs. I’m Irish-Catholicy but I feel at home but people frequently assume I’m Jewish. My drsweetie is technically female but I tend to set off people’s gaydar.

    It’s all good. We’re all just passengers on this ride, for as long as it lasts.

  5. Mark, you’re one in a million, bless you. (Note to others: I have met Mark in person and he’s different. I mean that as a compliment.)

  6. Michele,

    I think there are lots of middle-aged people who are newly unemployed. I don’t keep numbers on this, but that’s my sense of things.

    Of course, you know how they say that it’s a recession when your neighbor is unemployed and a depression when you are unemployed? My husband’s plant closed down at the beginning of 2009, and since that time he has been doing a variety of computer-repair and other freelance work. Also, he keeps in touch with quite a few people at his old employer who are in the same boat so that affects my perception of what is happening in the labor force.

  7. I get called “different” a lot too. With my low-grade Aspberger’s it’s often hard for me to tell how that’s meant.

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