United States: 4 Things Older Entrepreneurs Must Do to Stay In The Game

Last Updated: December 15 2014
Article by Richard E. Lieberman

Previously published in Entrepreneur

We are entering a virtual work world where we will use new robust technologies and social/business networks to communicate with colleagues, customers and employees. Yet too many Generation X and Baby Boomer leaders reject the notion that technology is changing the fundamental way we work, and even worse, do not consider altering the way they work.

Here are some of the things you need to do, right now, to stay relevant.

1. Use social networks

Social networking will be adapted to business communications. If you lack proficiency in using social networks to connect with others, share and obtain information, and communicate your intentions and ideas, you will be obsolete. Recently, a group of experts studying future work skills concluded: "Connective technologies make it easier than ever to work, share ideas and be productive despite physical separation. But, the virtual work environment also demands a new set of competencies." So, how do you gain these competencies?

The best way to learn to use connective technologies is to become an avid participant in social networking. Whether it's Facebook, Twitter, or whatever new platform becomes available, it is the ability to communicate virtually on a continual basis that will provide you a core competency in being successful in the new working world.

Be proactive in seeking out friends and contacts on social networks. LinkedIn, the business network, is a good vehicle to expand your work contacts and receive and communicate information. If you have a special interest, such as a hobby or medical concern, seek out a social networking site that allows you to share and communicate with like-minded individuals. As you begin to engage in social networking, learn and practice how to effectively communicate.

People also use numerous social media platforms to present ideas and content. For example, an individual's Tweet may contain a link to a YouTube video containing three minutes of that individual demonstrating cooking an omelet, as well as another link to her blog discussing cooking. Proficient users of social media constantly switch between platforms using the most appropriate one to express themselves in video, text, pictures, or graphics. Experts identify this new media literacy as a core job skill for the near future workforce, noting that user-generated media including the videos, blogs, and podcasts that now dominate our social lives will be fully felt in workplaces in the next decade.

2. Learn to expand your job knowledge through cyberspace tools

In the near future, all knowledge, including every book, article and research paper ever written, will be available to you instantaneously. Knowing how to access and process relevant information will be a critical job tool. It is necessary for you to begin practicing now. This means more than simply engaging in a superficial Google search or looking something up on Wikipedia. You should challenge yourself to find material information for your job, every day. In the new virtual world, there are no restrictions of what leaders can "know" other than your own inability to obtain the information and use it.

3. Improve your virtual interpersonal skills

As work becomes more virtual, even though entrepreneurs will be physically working alone much more than today, they will also be more connected with their colleagues than ever before. Your ability to effectively communicate virtually will be essential to your success. We all know individuals who are very effective in a face-to-face meeting but essentially disappear when they send emails and texts. Knowing how to express your personality in virtual communications will be a critical work skill. Study emails of colleagues and friends who effectively use the media to express their personalities, thoughts and opinions. Work on composing emails that are short, focused and clear but also contain humor and other emotional content. Study social media where people convey more with fewer words.

4. Be proactive in learning new technology

Be the first in line for every new technological tool that is available to assist you. Many leaders falsely believe that their experience and judgment are so important that they do not need to be proficient with new technologies. But as we increasingly shift to a virtual work world, those who do not have a proactive attitude to using technology will be obsolete.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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