Hi Dorothy – I’m very aware that I should be networking more but just don’t seem to have the time. I have 2 small children and many events are held after work when I need to get home to relieve my babysitter. What other suggestions could you come up with? Aurelie, Amsterdam
Hi Aurelie – Thanks for your question. I remember those days well! You’re right it isn’t easy to carve out space for yourself with small children.
Here are some basic networking tips to at least get you on your way:
- Create a networking strategy – assess your network and decide where/how it needs strengthening. The reluctance of women to network strategically does put them at a significant disadvantage but it’s probably not necessary to attend all events. Identify which events are key for you – 4 per year should be more than sufficient and be strategic when you do go, rather than just chatting and having a drink. You didn’t mention a partner or a father of your children. Is there no possibility that he could step in at these times to cover for you? Don’t forget to make time for you!
- Create an online network - All women should create one or more on-line, comprehensive, professional profiles. LinkedIn is a primary platform for professionals. These online connections can be converted into real connections over time. Engaging online is also something that can be fitted in with other responsibilities, so is a perfect instrument for women and is entirely self-scheduling (when the kids are in bed perhaps). Women are more active than men in social media, but we need to tap into our network for business purposes rather than simply chatting on Facebook.
- Reach out – Start gently – invite one new person to lunch every quarter, connect with colleagues in other parts of your company, meet suppliers or other sector and professional contacts. These are all things that can be done during the working day, at lunchtime or even before work. Staying in touch by email or phone can be just as effective to make sure that you are still on everyone’s radar. Skype calls also make a difference when you can see the person you are talking to. If you commute by car, can you make your calls then? Networking should be ongoing and many people make the critical mistake of only doing this when they need help, which is generally not appreciated.
- Become or find a mentor: Women of any age and position in their professional life, even entry-level can find a mentoring relationship useful. This is a great way to expand your network too.
Hope this helps !