Between long workdays, dinner prep and soccer practice shuttling, there's no time for a busy mom to do the networking that's required for career advancement -- or is there? The key to boosting your career without downgrading your family on the priority list is to make the most of how you interact with the people you see or connect with every day -- whether it's online or in the school pick-up line.
Social media is the busy career mom's best friend. "Once you get the basics of how Twitter works," says Julie Fry, founder of Business Among Moms, based in Seattle, "it is invaluable for making connections and finding others in your industry or target market. She touts the benefits of Facebook for its wide audience and LinkedIn for its ability to connect with both companies and people. Working mom Faith McKinney, a positioning and visibility consultant in Indianapolis, recommends branding yourself on social media and being consistent with your message across all platforms. Ways to do this include posting only positive news about your life and family, sharing articles that pertain to your interests, keeping your profiles current and participating in business-related discussions in relevant groups.
Join Professional Organizations
Sometimes, simply being able to list a professional organization on your resume increases your clout when trying to advance your career. However, you can also often stay involved digitally by offering valuable information via the organization's website, newsletter or trade publication, suggests career coach Barbara Safani, who's based in New York. "Consider taking on a leadership role within your professional community by chairing a committee or submitting articles for the newsletter," she says. While it might seem like a lot of extra work, she notes that much of it can be done from home and is fairly flexible. Fry also recommends seeking out a working mom-specific networking organization. Once you've made connections, she says, set aside a specific amount of time each week to reach out and follow-up with these people. "Relationships happen as a result of interaction, and it does require time and effort," she says.
Connect With Other Moms (and Dads)
Whether you find them on the playground or during sports practice, other working moms and dads are likely eager to network with you, too. "A close second to the golf course may very well be the playground," Safani says, though she also suggests classes or sports practices as potential places to connect. She recommends scheduling at least one weekend class to maximize networking opportunities. As your child gets older, becoming a team parent not only allows you to network with myriad community members, but also list leadership positions on your resume.
Put your professional skills to work at your child's school or day care center. If you're a fundraising expert, offer to solicit donations for an upcoming event. Those who are whiz-bang writers or graphic designers might offer to work on newsletters or fliers. "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," Safani says. She suggests taking it one step further -- offer to chair an event or become a member of the 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," she notes.