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Supercharged Retirement: Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love

  Your network shouldn’t just be about what you do. It has to be about who you are. I once helped a friend polish his resume when things weren’t going well at the job he was on. He’d met another father at their sons’ hockey practice who was looking for project managers. My friend stepped onto that new career path because of his kid’s hockey practice. He’s been wonderfully successful. He’d have never had the chance if he hadn’t taken the time to chat with that other parent while he was watching his kid work on stick skills.

  Networking is often misunderstood. It is not a matter of collecting business cards. It is not about how many names you have in your Rolodex or on your PDA. It’s about having a shared interest that puts you in contact with people you wouldn’t have met otherwise. It’s about doing things to help these people when you can—be it moving their furniture when you’d rather be watching the baseball game, letting them know about a job opportunity that just came up where you work, or including them on an art tour you’ve been invited to attend because you know they are interested.

  A network starts with GIVING. And we’re not talking about the stuff the company hands out to customers at Christmas either. You pay attention to these people because you like and respect them. They pay attention to you for the same reasons. It’s like the symbiotic relationships we learned about in high school biology. As part of the team building sessions in the work setting, it’s called Win Win.

  A well-established network is priceless in many different ways. It’s a source of information, sure. But it’s also a source of support. It’s an early warning system sometimes. And if you are going to change geography, it’s an immediate invitation to fun that you’d spend months looking for otherwise. Networks might well be THE primary resource for things you want to make happen in retirement. At least in the near term.

  Ironically, when we leave work, the network starts to atrophy instantly. Maintaining a strong, vibrant network is probably one of the most important things we can do at this stage of our lives. Usually we do just the opposite, partly because so much of it was tied to work.

  When you walk out the door, that kind of network stays behind. Even if you promise you are going to get together for lunch, golf, coffee, or whatever, you lose contact quickly. You NEED a network.

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