I have been divorced now for about four years. I had friends to support me, but I was lacking connections. How could I create a wider net, gain exposure for my new business, and make new friends and, increase income possibilities? I was a stay-at-home mom who had no idea about this concept called “networking,” let alone how to find opportunities or use them to my advantage.
Networking sounded so imposing! I thought it would be all these women in suits talking high end business tactics, passing business cards around like jelly beans at Easter. How would I relate to these business women since I hadn’t had much business experience in over a decade?! Where do I find these groups? So many questions rattled my brain making this feel even more overwhelming!
Thank goodness I had a fantastic PR & marketing coach at the time. She was able to give me a bit of direction and suggested that I try a few on for size, see how they feel, and then choose one or two to commit to. I looked into local city chambers, the local chapter of NAWBO, a women’s networking group, and a ladies lunch group.
At the time, the business chambers and NAWBO were too business-y for me and intimidating. NAWBO also had expensive yearly dues that I couldn’t afford yet. Finally settling on the Women’s Networking Group and Ladies Who Lunch, I committed myself to one year of going to these monthly luncheons.
That decision was the single most important thing I did for myself, my business and my family as I began my new life as a single mom entrepreneur.
I met lots of women who had been in my shoes at one point in their life. It was inspiring for me to hear their story of divorce, single parenthood, and business.
I didn’t feel alone in what I wanted to accomplish. I felt empowered to move toward my goals because I had so many women who had been there, done that. They understood how hard it was to start life over with a kid and build a business at the same time.
Not only was there love, support, and understanding, these women had tips to help me move faster toward my goals. I knew what worked and what didn’t. I gleaned information from their past mistakes on what not to do and how they learned better systems of balancing work life and single parenthood.
My circle of influence grew over the past two years and these women have become my best friends. We create our own networking opportunities outside the regular monthly lunches to get to know each other on a more one to one basis.
I know I can post a quick question on the community board and have a plethora of answers at my fingertips within minutes. What a time saver and resource!
If life is overwhelming and I am feeling lost as I do the work/family shuffle, I know these ladies will circle the wagons around me and help me find a solution. Sometimes that is a soft kick in the butt with bunny slippers to move in a different direction or simply an invitation to have a glass of wine.
I am proactive when I go to these networking events. I take a look at who has RSVP’d on Facebook and find five new women to meet. I am lucky in the way that the WNG lunch and the Ladies Who Lunch fall back-to-back on different days in the same week.
There is a lot of crossover between the groups and some ladies go to both. If there is someone I want to spend a lot of time to get to know, I will seek her out at the WNG lunch and suggest we sit together the next day at the Ladies Who Lunch event. Ladies Who Lunch is a soft networking event. Not all groups need to be strictly business. If you are gathering with like-minded individuals and talking, you are networking.
As a single mom, it’s important to gather with other women and feel supported. Do a search on Facebook for women’s groups in your areas, check out their fees and meet times, and make a commitment to yourself to attend at least two to three events a month. You life will change and your confidence will grow. DO it! DO it now!!
- Yours, Mine, and Ours: Bridging the Gap in Divorce Experience
- Choosing a Divorce Support Group
- Divorce Angst: 8 Places to Turn When You Need Support
- Keeping Your Head above Water after Divorce