Retire Gradually: But Maintain your Network

A gradual approach to retirement has been the focus of my writing this year. To accomplish a phased retirement, you may be able to reduce your hours at your existing company, or even leave full-time employment but continue working as a consultant.

However, it’s also possible that reduced hours or part-time work as you ‘ramp down’ will come from different companies. So, it’s a good idea while you’re still active in your career to keep your network strong – and even continue to grow it.  If it’s not strong today, realize its value and increase your efforts to build up a strong network of individuals who can help you find part-time professional work down the road.

Here’s a checklist you can use now to foster an active network to tap later when you’re marketing your skills in semi-retirement:

  • Collect all your contacts in one place to manage; today they may be in email, on your phone or here in LinkedIn
  • Review and refresh your list by reaching out and connecting with your network on a periodic basis to keep the communications current (even if you haven’t connected in a while, now is a great time to reconnect!)
  • Don’t forget the vendors and partners you currently work with; they can be great referral sources for you later!
  • And if you meet another interesting professional, connect with them, and then keep the conversation going through email or LinkedIn messaging

An excellent book by Marcia Ballinger and Nathan Perez can help you with this process.  The 20-Minute Networking Meeting – Executive Edition will give you all the information you need to start or improve.  For an experienced professional the guidance here can be highly valuable; even if you’re not looking to land a full-time position many of the principles are the same for your staged retirement work projects.

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