Being a working parent is never easy, and requires untold levels of patience, organisation and management, which is escalated significantly when you are a working parent running a business.
It can seem like there just aren’t enough hours in the day, and not enough of you to go around. But if there is one thing all business-owners should be doing regularly and actively, it’s networking. We all know how, thanks to the likes of Facebook linking up to others is a 21st century essential. Business networking is much more serious, but plays out in much the same way, and often proves invaluable in business.
Remember, it’s not what you know but who you know. Here are a few top tips for making the most of networking.
They are there if you look for them, and there have been many new business networking groups, particularly those for women in business, popping up all around recently. These are a fantastic starting point for your networking, as it gives you a nice pool of resources. All you really need to do is jump in and everything needed for successful networking is within reach. But as important as the actual resourcesis your attitude towards networking, and your network will never fulfil their potential if you don’t commit to the cause one hundred per cent.
If you don’t already have one, get one straight away. They don’t have to be terribly fancy, but make sure they are succinct, professional-looking and tell the holder everything they need to know about your business in a nutshell. Similarly, make sure you collect other people’s cards, and get a folder to keep them safe and to hand when you need them.
Follow Up and Maintenance
Making the connection is only half the job; from here on, you must make follow-up and contact maintenance a priority. This means checking back with the person you’ve networked with shortly after meeting, to solidify your relationship and show your commitment to networking. You also have to regularly check in with your contacts as you would with friends. Meeting once, then appearing out of the blue a year later to ask a favour is bad form, and is not likely to make you many friends. Networking is a two-way street and you have to be willing to return the favour, so keep on top of it and show you care.
Business networking is a lot like learning: you never know it all, and so there is never a good reason to stop. Set yourself targets if it helps, and promise yourself that you’ll make one new contact per week, or whatever suits you, then raise your targets when you reach them. Even if you reach a point at which you feel contented and have seen results from your networking, you never know what’s out there. You may meet a person in a totally unrelated field who gives you the idea and resources to branch out in a new direction. The possibilities are endless.
Being a parent and business-owner is a real juggling act at the best of times, but efficient networking can relieve a significant amount of labour from a new business, and offer you lifelines where you once wouldn’t have had them. So get out there and get networking.
By Charlotte Baldwin, Operations Manager at IQ Cards:
IQ Cards are a fundraising company that provide schools and establishments with the necessary tools to fundraise via selling high-quality and unique gifts designed by pupils. As part of the established on-demand print and digital solutions provider The IQ Digital House, ensures that all requirements and products are produced to the highest standards, delivered on time and at great value prices. Several of the IQ cards team are mothers and PTA members themselves appreciating and understanding school protocols extremely well. They are the preferred supplier for PTA UK. For more information please visit: http://www.iqcards.co.uk/