I just finished reading an article from www.careerjournal.com titled Business Schools Target Stay-At-Home Moms. Business schools including Harvard University, Baruch's Zicklin School of Business, and Babson College are targeting stay-at-home moms who are ready to return to the professional world. The goal of the courses is to help women overcome the gap in their resume with job-seeking strategies and help bring them up-to-date on changes in their field while they were gone. Such programs are great, but I recommend incorporating networking strategies into your life with children so when you are ready to return to work you've already built up an abundance of contacts that can assist you in your search moving forward.
Below are some tips for expanding your network and staying connected to your business community while you’re taking care of your children. Start networking for business opportunities now and you’ll have more viable options available to you when you are ready to return to work.
You’ve all heard the expression that most deals are sealed on the golf course. A close second to the golf course may very well be the playground. The same principles of networking and schmoozing work with a small child in tow. It’s easy to strike up a conversation at the swings or the sandbox. Bring some toys that work best in groups like jump ropes, balls and bubble fluid and you’re bound to have a captive audience of both kids and adults in no time. If many of the children in your neighborhood are with caregivers during the week, it still makes sense to build these relationships. Chances are that the nanny’s current employer or their friend’s employers are people that are connected to others that you might like to know.
Group Classes/Sports Teams
By the time your children are three years old, many classes are “drop off” and parents are asked to wait outside the class area. Use that hour to network with the parents in the class. Try to schedule at least one class on the weekend to maximize the chances of communicating with a parent directly. When your kids get older, consider being the team parent for your child’s sports teams. This enables you to have ongoing contact with the parents of the team members and positions you as an effective organizer or leader.
When you volunteer for a position in your child’s school or your local community you are broadening your range of contacts since members of these groups represent multiple professional backgrounds. You are afforded the chance to network with people that you might not meet at work or through a professional organization. Volunteering in your school/community allows you to 1. Position yourself as an insider or expert in a particular area 2. Gain access to other members of the community that may be useful professional contacts in the future 3.Develop new marketable skills that you can apply to your future job search
When you volunteer, chose a leadership role, such as chair person for an event or member of the school’s executive board. These types of opportunities provide you with much greater visibility and decision-making power than you would receive if you just offer to bake cupcakes for the school picnic.
As mothers, we spend a great deal of time nurturing our children’s passions and developing their unique skills and attributes. We become so immersed in the amazing process of watching our children grow, that we often forget that we still need to plant professional seeds now so that our careers can grow in the future.