There’s this old Jewish joke…
I remember an incident from my youth, funny that I haven’t thought about it for years (I’m now in my fifties). I was in our family car, my father behind the wheel, a friend of his in the passenger seat, me in the back. I was about nine at the time, and in the way of all children (at least in those days pre smart phones and iPods) I paid particular attention to the conversation taking place. It was how we eavesdropped on the adult world we craved to enter.
We passed a small office building with a large “For Sale” sign out the front. The friend said to my father, “you see that building, Sam?” My father nodded. “I could have bought it for a song ten years ago, now it’s worth a fortune.” My father considered this for a moment. “So why don’t you buy it now? It’s obviously a good investment.” The friend replied in a shocked voice, “Now? No. now it’s too late.”
“It’s just too late for me…”
You hear this from mature professionals all the time. “I’m too old to get involved in all this social media stuff. Maybe ten years ago, when I was younger, but it’s too late to change the way I run things.”
This reflects the sad truth that there is precious little information out there for mature professionals that is intelligible, written in plain English, and succinct enough to justify the vast investment in time to track it all down. Like dating someone who is alluring but speaks a different language, the prospect is enticing but the missteps along the way can send you sprinting in the opposite direction. This is magnified when professionals are mature practitioners. It’s not that they are “set in their ways”. After all, they attend professional training, and if shown a better way of conducting their business, they will readily change their practice. Like it or not, lawyers have to change with the law, accountants have to alter their advice according to the tax codes, superannuation professionals must move with the superannuation laws. But social media? No thanks, no way.
It’s a conundrum.
For mature professionals, social media has burst onto the scene with the speed of a bullet train, and really that’s all you see, a flash of unfocused images as it streaks by, leaving you stranded on a remote platform. And you’re only 52, for heaven’s sake, you expect to work in your profession for at least another ten years! Look around, that platform is crowded with fellow professionals, and surprisingly, some of them work in firms a lot larger than yours.
As for me…
I was in my fifties when I got involved in a joint venture that meant I had to learn a lot about websites, social media and other aspects of online life that were largely foreign to my experience. As I wrote:
As a result of a joint venture with a multinational service provider, a product to be delivered on the internet, I found myself sitting at conference tables opposite (mostly) twenty-something IT consultants who knew plenty about the internet but little about the real world needs of our professional clients. In the end the venture became unworkable, but along the way I learnt a lot about blogging, WordPress, social media and search engine optimisation (SEO).
Everything I’ve learned and put into practice is a result of that learning. Yes, I had been involved in some online writing, but the rest, including Twitter and LinkedIn and most of all website content design, all was learned because I had to.
Mature professionals have to as well, because that’s where your profession is going in your last ten or twenty years on the job. You don’t need to learn nearly as much as I did, and there are many helpful guides out there, but bottom line, we’re all in danger of being left behind.
What’s really needed is to first look at your website content. That will do it for now. You don’t have to be extraordinary, you just need to make ordinary use of the extraordinary opportunity afforded by the internet. But most of all you need to make a start. Making that start is the most immediate task, for the moment no greater ambition is needed, and after that the learning curve will quickly flatten to a manageable incline. At that point you can decide whether to invest more resources. For now the best way to learn is to digest the basics, as we present in our MatureMedia Guides, and then get on with it.
Make a start.
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