For most people, networking is difficult, uncomfortable or even dreaded. As someone who can easily shift into extrovert mode, I’ve been able to navigate networking pretty easily. After becoming a mom however, networking is the last thing I want to do. I could quickly rattle off a huge list of reasons why networking is so hard for moms (no time, no money, no child care, tired, etc., etc.,) but instead let’s talk about how to network like a boss…mom style.
- Go with a friend. Sometimes the hardest thing about networking is actually getting to the event. If you get a friend to join you, you’re more likely to actually go. Also, as you work the room and meet new people, you can split up and double your effort. Then share contact info and make connections when you meet someone your friend should talk to or vice versa. Just remember to actually split up. Spending the entire event connecting with someone you already know isn’t the reason you’re there.
- Know your introduction. This is important for those introverts out there. If physically getting to a networking event is tough, opening your mouth and saying something articulate to a stranger is even tougher. We’ve all heard about elevator speeches and honestly, just thinking about remembering mine gives me anxiety (mom-brain anyone?) So, here’s my alternative, when you meet someone say your name, your title, who you help and how. For example, “My name is Hillary Bennett, I’m a female empowerment coach and I help stay at home moms re-enter the work force.” Short and sweet.
- Don’t sit alone. You know when you walk into a room and it’s only half full? And even though you’re there to meet new people you pick a seat or a table that is surrounded by a sea of empty seats? It may be uncomfortable, but don’t sit alone or stand alone at a networking event. You’ve taken the time away from your kids, possibly paid to be there, maybe even paid a baby-sitter… so get it girl! Sit directly next to someone and stand in a busy line. Then dazzle whoever you are next to with your short and sweet intro. Hopefully conversation will flow from there. If it doesn’t, that’s your cue to excuse yourself and go find someone new to talk with.
- Get their cards. My first corporate job out of college I had a colleague who went through all 500 of her business cards in the first 4 months. I was in absolute awe; she must be a networking genius! Now that I’m a bit wiser, I know that giving out your information like candy isn’t going to get you as far as being on the receiving end of people’s contact information. You want the ability to contact the people you meet directly, so if you meet someone you want to connect with later, make sure to get their contact information. That way you don’t have to wait around hoping to hear from them while trying to guess how to spell their name to find them LinkedIn.
- Make it fun. Try to find one reason to look forward to the networking opportunity. Maybe the friend you’re going with is someone you haven’t seen for a while so you decide to grab a glass of wine afterward to recap and connect. Maybe the bar, restaurant, or caterer is one you’ve been wanting to try. If you’re goal oriented, set a goal for how many people you want to meet. Looking for the positive and finding something to be grateful for will reduce your anxiety and replace it with joy.
I encourage you to take your next opportunity to do a little networking, empowered with these tips. Also, being a mom comes with a lot of built-in, informal networking opportunities. These tips are easily adaptable to helping you connect at soccer games, school events and mom-groups.
Go forth and share your awesomeness with the world!
(Have a conference coming up? See my tips for networking at conferences.)