Monday, September 17, 2007

Ten Ways to Boost Your Network When You’ve Put Your Work Life on Hold (Part Two)

As promised, here are five more tips for keeping your network alive when you put your work life on hold.

Alumni Organizations is a free service that builds, manages and hosts online business alumni communities where former business colleagues can renew relationships and network. This is an easy way to stay connected to your previous employer and make inroads with ex-employees that now work somewhere else. is a free service that manages online school alumni programs where members can reconnect with old friends, receive reunion updates and post messages.

College/University Alumni Associations are a feature on most school websites. If a chapter for your school does not exist in your area, consider starting one.

Professional Organizations

Keep up your memberships with professional organizations or join a new one while you are not working. This allows you to stay current on issues that affect your industry. In addition to offering valuable information via the organization’s website, newsletter, or trade publication, most host free or low-cost seminars. Make it a point to stay connected with some fellow members and meet some new ones. Consider taking on a leadership role within your professional community. Chair a committee or submit articles for the association newsletter. Much of the work can be done from home and offers a fair amount of flexibility. Chose the activity that meshes with your childcare schedule and follow through on all assignments. These positions increase your credibility and visibility within your professional community.

Share your expertise

Teach a class at your local school, library or community center. If you are a nurse, teach infant CPR. If you are an accountant, share some tips for tax time. Contribute an article to a local newspaper or website or publication within your industry. These activities keep your skills sharp and current and help you build your credibility as an expert within your community.

Connect Others

Introduce contacts that you think could benefit from each others’ experiences. Both will remember the introduction and be more likely to share contacts with you when asked.

Create a resume

Keep track of all your accomplishments during the years you are taking care of your children and quantify your results whenever possible. Don’t assume that your work will not be valued by the business community because it was done on a volunteer basis. Hiring managers look for candidates that can solve their problems and make or save money for their company. For example, if you organized the school’s annual fair, write out a statement explaining your role and quantify what you did, such as, “Generated $25,000 in school funds by organizing a community building event for 800 families.” Or if you chaired a committee for a professional organization say “Increased committee visibility by 40% by actively recruiting and marketing special committee presentations and events” Use your volunteer activities as a way to showcase your ability to lead, persuade and organize. Combine these traits with your professional identity and expertise.

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 blossom in the future. Build your network now and you’ll enjoy the benefits when you are ready to renew your job search.

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  • These are GREAT tips. Thank you for writing them.

    Silly me -- I never even considered these areas for working on maintaining a career, especially for people temporarily out of the work force.

    This offers a completely new perspective as well as some solid tips for "continuing the career" while the career is on hold.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:42 AM  

  • Scot,

    Since the number of women who leave the work force temporarily to take care of their children full-time is on the rise, I think it’s important to advocate for these women and give them some tips for keeping their network strong while they are raising their children. But you’re right, these suggestions really transcend gender and situation and anyone in transition can use these pointers to build their network. Thanks for reading!

    By Blogger Barbara Safani, at 9:37 PM  

  • Professional organizations in my industry charge an arm and a leg for seminars and networking events. Besides the $300-400 for "membership", the local chapter costs $50 and charge $30-40 per event. You can't go to the local events unless you're in the chapter. The webinars are $100 a pop.

    Top that off and it's a crap shoot whether or not you're going to make any good connections.

    What better use can that $1000 do for me?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:38 AM  

  • Sometimes organizations have special rates for members in career transition. If this is not the case in your field, and you feel that the organization fees are too pricey, try networking through some free or minimal fee on-line networking tools such as LinkedIn, Ryze, Meetup, Ecademy, or Xing.

    By Blogger Barbara Safani, at 12:33 PM  

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