Networking with a Purpose: Building Connections during a Career BreakJun 27, 2023
What do you think of when you hear the word “networking”? Perhaps you think of uncomfortable small talk, inauthentic schmoozing, or just too many awkward handshakes. Networking is often perceived as a purely transactional activity aimed at personal gain – which is why many people avoid it altogether. But we promise – there is a better way to network that will leave you feeling confident, connected, and fulfilled.
There are two things that we know are true. 1 – Moms have very limited time and need creative ways to optimize their job search. And 2 – networking is one of the most important parts of job searching. In fact, Forbes reported that, “estimates show between 70% - 80% of all jobs are never posted,” so a strong network can really speed up the job search process when the time comes.
You may be feeling hesitant to begin Networking with a capital “N”– attending networking mixers, handing out business cards, etc. - but we’d encourage you to shift your mindset and think of networking as simply building connections and exchanging ideas – finding commonalities with new people. And remember, it’s not just one sided – you have valuable ideas and insights to offer others which is just as important as the connections you gain. One of our favorite ways to save time as a mom while working towards your goal of returning to the workforce is to join groups that serve multiple purposes as you’re building your network. What do we mean by that? We’ve outlined our favorite ways to network while accomplishing something else.
Playgroups/Kid Events & Activities: Join a playgroup or attend a kid event or activity where your kids can socialize with other kids while you get to know other parents in your local area. Your kids will have a great time making friends while you build your network.
Volunteer: Find an opportunity to volunteer for a cause that you’re passionate about. You’ll feel fulfilled by giving back while building your resume and meeting other people who may have similar interests.
Professional Associations/Trainings: Sign up for a training or professional association where you can develop skills in your professional area of interest while meeting other people in your industry.
Faith Sharing/Mom Groups: Participate in a religious faith sharing group, bible study, or other mom group. You’ll fill your own cup by being in community with other people who are seeking opportunities to grow in similar ways while also building your network.
Wondering what to do once you’re face-to-face with someone new? Here are four tips for a successful interaction:
- Be genuinely curious and actively listen
- Find common ground
- Be authentic and, if relevant, identify one thing you can share or do for this person to support their goals
- Follow up and maintain the relationship, even if it is just connecting on LinkedIn
You never know who you’ll meet when you’re open to a conversation! While some people thrive at networking events and shaking hands with strangers, many of us prefer smaller groups or 1:1 interactions with people who have shared interests. We are hoping that this list will help you build your network in a time-saving, comfortable way!
Want more actionable tips to support your job search? Sign up for our newsletter below. And as always, we are here to help – if you have a question, submit it through the Career Concierge form below and we’ll follow up with you directly!
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