If you’re trying out for a new position or career, business whiz Allan Leighton gives this advice on how to make a success of it…
Post-40, you have a lot to offer. You’re probably more flexible now your children are older, more worldly and mature, which isn’t the same as old.
And if you’re going back into the workplace after a break or changing career, chances are you’ll have picked something to do that you’re really interested in, so you’ll be good at it.
Stay informed. Be up to date with news, opinion and who’s who. Read the papers and listen to news programmes. It’s a great way of keeping abreast with what’s going on.
Keep physically fit. Mental and physical fitness go hand in hand. Being in shape makes you feel stronger and more confident. Plus exercise is a great stress-buster. I get stressed, but I run four or five times a week and that clears it all up.
Learn to network. This may mean using social events to talk to new people. So much of business is who you know. You could also go to conferences that you’re interested in.
If you’re in human resources, for instance, you could choose something on employment or ethnicity. If you’re in sales, find a conference on how to negotiate, perhaps. Use these events to network. Pass your card around, ask questions, and listen to other people’s ideas.
Look the part. Be aware of the way you look, speak and present yourself, but also be reassured that companies these days are more interested in your brains than your looks.
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Learn a new skill… to go alongside your work skill, such as ballroom dancing or salsa. They’re excellent disciplines and will keep you mentally agile. If you can learn to ballroom dance, putting all those skills together, you can do anything!
Value yourself. In some ways, you’re more valuable to a company now than you were at 22 or 23. You’re probably more mature, loyal and will be off sick less.
If you’re starting out on your own, the chances are you’ve picked something you’re really interested in and you’re more likely to make it work.
Be confident, not cocky. People often think you need to be chatty and extrovert to be seen as a confident person, but confidence often comes across as being very calm instead.
Really successful female bosses exude an inner calm, as well as an innate toughness.
Plus these bosses all have the softness that women bring to the business environment, which is such a huge asset to possess.
Be Internet savvy. Don’t be intimidated! Keep up to date with new technology and especially methods of communication, such as SnapChat, MySpace and YouTube.
They’re great ways of networking and make you look current. Setting up your own blog is easier than you think too.
Start small. If you’re setting up your own business start small, suck it and see.
I’ve seen so many people open a shop, for instance, who go from small to big too quickly and get themselves in trouble.
Also, do your research first. It can be done in one very intense week, but make sure you do it.
Don’t try to be something you’re not. You won’t be able to sustain that for very long and you won’t enjoy it. Above all else, be yourself.
Allan’s book On Leadership: Practical Wisdom From The People Who Know (Random House Business Books) is priced from R220 at Exclusive Books.