Make the most of what you have got – networking as a mother
“I just don’t know where to start!”
Some of the most common feedback that we have got from members at My Second Act is that while they want to change their current situation they do not know how or where to start.
In the recent bestselling book ‘Sapiens’, historian Yuval Noah Harari says that besides the discovery of fire – the other big factor that helped the Homo Sapiens emerge and thrive over all other species of animals was human networks. In the stone, ice, neanderthal ages and more – we were able to communicate, pass on key information and it helped us move across continents so that we could explore better options, optimise living and future potential and continue to thrive.
Not much has changed. Networking today is about building fruitful relationships that you can leverage whenever you need to. These relationships need not have a timeline or a goal set in stone. They can be just relationships that are meaningful because they inform your thoughts and equip you with information. Information is power, and sometimes the only way to information is through people like you or who have traversed that path before.
In the modern day, networking events conjure up images of dreadful coffee dates, day-long events at hotels and mindless panel discussions in rooms filled with strangers. Fitting these into a busy day means more time away from the children and just become a harbinger of guilt. The albatross.
So know this.Things do not have to be that way. Networking needs to be a part of your daily life, your daily curriculum so to speak. It has to fit into your life, your life cannot be tweaked endlessly to make random events fit.
What this means is you need to keep your eyes and ears open when you meet new people. Our children bring new people into our lives everyday. Aparna and Gauri, the Founders of My Second Act, met through their kids! And several other women have fascinating stories of people that they met at pre-schools, on the soccer field and more. So it simply is not true to imply that women on a career break who are mothers do not having enough windows of opportunity. They do! They just need to know that these exist, the conversations need to be encouraged and connections need to be built and nurtured.
Research suggests that 70% of top jobs are not advertised. They are mostly obtained by ‘networks’. Which makes job-search also “who you know/send feelers” exercise. We all have busy days but we need to realize that it is in the everyday, in a shared present and future that meaningful relationships are built. It is not something to roll our eyes at or something to be consider unbecoming. We are all in this to support each other. If we don’t ask, we will never get. All networking does not have to lead to a job or a promotion. It could lead to a window of opportunity in terms of acquiring a new skill, or certification and can be a facilitator of general growth and prosperity.
So be open to connect with someone who you may not typically meet within your social or professional circle. Neighbours, parents in your class at school, parents you meet at the extracurricular classes, everyone counts. When you meet someone, be an effective communicator. Engage in a conversation and if it does feel like it has potential, feel free to exchange business cards or phone numbers. Connect on Linkedin. When you feel the time is ready, schedule a one-on-one meeting which could be coffee, breakfast, a quick evening drink or a Facetime date after the kids are asleep. Remember the connection is one about give and take. So ask for or offer help, but initiate the circle because that is how these conversations pay off.
Reach out for support here, at the playground or at the music class. Strike up a conversation, listen, reach out. You never know where these things can take you.