Tips for Mom Entrepreneurs: How to Stay Connected to Your Network
As a working mom, you may already feel overwhelmed, juggling dual responsibilities of work and family. When it comes to networking ñ yet another task ñ you may feel that ìthe time Iíve spent at networking has never really paid off.î
Creating a personal and professional network is essential for your work + life success. Thatís why working moms need to approach networking with a different paradigm, explained below as a three-part process.
Networking isnít just about collecting business cards from people you think may help you. Itís about planting seeds and nurturing long-term relationships that mature over time.
As a mom, you may understand this process well because it calls upon the same nurturing skills you already use with your family.
How many times have you attended networking events and seen others jabber on about themselves and frantically hand out dozens, if not hundreds, of their cards? This frenetic approach only makes them look weak. As a working mom, draw on that ìMommyî authority to engage in empowering, networking actions.
* Give ñ Adopt a giving attitude. When you meet someone ask, ìHow can I help you?î Always think, ìWho could I connect them with to help them meet their goals?î Itís a natural principle: The more you help others, the more others will help you.
* Ask ñ Be bold. Always think, ìyou never know what will happenî and ìitís worth a try.î If you meet a new contact and find you have an instant connection, donít be afraid to ask for help.
* Follow up – Getting introduced to the ìrightî people is important, but itís what you do after the introduction that really counts. If youíve felt a connection with a new contact, phone, email or send a thank-you note within one or two days. Then, keep in touch periodically, even if just to say, ìHi, itís been awhileÖî
Efficient Use of Time
You may be thinking, ìIíd like to stay connected with people, but I just donít have the time.î Here are three ways to efficiently find time to network:
* Lunch Hours ñ Iíve historically used my lunch hour, a coveted ME time, to run errands, walk a mile or two or get my hair or nails done. Yet, many associations and groups schedule networking meetings during this time. So, I began to add networking lunches. Itís a great way to preserve early-morning and evening family hours by substituting networking lunches for breakfast meetings or evening mixers!
* ìCoffee/lunch over the phoneî ñ My business partner, Jo Della Penna, introduced me to the idea of networking by scheduling ìcoffee over the phoneî. What a great idea! This is a more efficient way to meet. Plus, neither party has to invest in driving time. When you want to spend time with a colleague, try a relaxing ìlunch over the phoneî by scheduling a lunch appointment, packing a lunch that day and calling at the appointed time.
* Schedule in advance – Earmark your calendar to remind yourself to re-connect with a contact periodically. If you meet a new contact today, schedule the follow up call for two days later and plan a ìcheck-inî email within 60 days.
Remember, the key to networking is building a relationship over time. By using the steps above you should succeed at establishing good relationships that empower you and your business, and yet, donít use hours and hours of your time.