One of the most common complaints I hear from stay-at-home moms regarding the job search is that they don't have a strong enough professional network. While that may very well be true, your "mommy" network might be a more valuable job search tool than you realize. Your social friends know lots of people and you just never know when a social conversation might lead to professional opportunities. You could sit next to someone at a meeting and learn she is employed by a company you're just dying to work for or a conversation on your deck could lead you to discover that your neighbor's company has a need for a person just like yourself. Those "chance" meetings can make an enormous difference in your job search. But unfortunately as busy moms, we often don't leave enough room in our days for serendipity to grace our lives. We are so busy taking care of our day-to-day responsibilities -- using lunch hours to run errands and evenings to do laundry -- that we don't allow enough time for those "lucky" conversations to take place. Of course, by definition, you can't plan for serendipity. But if you make a conscious effort, you can create more space for serendipity to cross your path. Here are four easy ways to generate networking opportunities from your everyday routine (beyond simply posting on Facebook):
- At least once every few days, make it a point to introduce yourself to someone new. Talk to the person next to you on the treadmill, strike up a conversation with the receptionist at the dentist's office or introduce yourself to the new person at the PTA meeting. You never know what fruitful connections will result from your initiative.
- Once a week, go to a meeting, class, lecture or event outside of your "normal" routine.
- Once a month, pick up the phone and make a date to meet someone new for lunch.
- Once a year, make a point to reconnect with long lost friends. Start an e-mail chain letter to catch up with your old cronies from high school or college. Write a brief description of what you've been up to recently, pass it on to a friend, and have them send it to someone else from your class. This is a fun way to reconnect with old buddies while effortlessly expanding your network of contacts.
Just making a few small, but consistent, changes can have a major impact on your life over time. Keep in mind the words of Kenneth Hildebrand:
"Someone receives a promotion, gets an important assignment, makes a major discovery, or moves into the president's office. "He's lucky," an envious person remarks. "He gets the breaks; they're always in his favor." In reality, luck or the breaks of life had little or nothing to do with it. So-called "luck" usually is found at the exact point where preparation meets opportunity. For a time, an individual may get ahead by "pull," but eventually someone with push will displace him. Success is not due to a fortuitous concourse of stars at our birth, but to a steady trail of sparks from the grindstone of hard work each day."
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