The importance of Networking as a mum in businessFeb 21, 2022
“We’ve all been in our houses for far too long”.
That’s what I said to myself this weekend.
After a few days of horrendous weather that oh-so-familiar itch set in and I needed to get myself out of the house.
My son had trashed his bedroom, there were at least 3 mystery food stains on the sofa and I felt like we’d exhausted Netflix to the point of torture.
We got out, in the wind and rain. We booked tickets to the local cinema, grabbed a pizza and in those few short hours everything felt right with the world once more.
I used to feel like this when he was little.
That’s when I started looking for groups, but not the village hall, mum & baby groups. I wanted to surround myself with women like me who were trying to grow something. Women who some days never got round to growing much but none-the-less were giving it a good go.
I hit my first stumbling block pretty quickly.
I didn’t exactly live in a cosmopolitan epicentre of activity.
There was nothing here.
We have a village shop, we have a chip shop.
We do not have insta-walls and bagels and great coffee - nope, none of that.
In my early motherhood days (heck, years) I would lose hours on Instagram and see these amazing events, attended by amazing looking people. They seemed so happy, there seemed to be such a community. Smiling faces, social media friends becoming real life buds and I felt sad.
I felt so excluded from it.
When you live rurally there are so many things to juggle, travelling to London was not only costly but scary with a small one in tow.
I desperately wanted these events to be on my doorstep & they just weren’t.
Then, I found one.
A friend told me about a mums in business networking group that was being held in a town near me. The membership fee was low, it was at a soft play and I was in! I booked my ticket straight away.
This part of my personal journey may or may not make sense to you but I want you to know that I really struggled with who I was when I wasn’t working.
On the one hand I felt really lucky that I was with my little one all the time, I got to build our family business with my partner and my parents were super supportive in helping with childcare when I needed it but I didn't know who I was. I didn’t feel like I fit into the working-career-orientated version of me and when I met with other blissfully happy mums who wanted to tell me every little thing about their child, I didn’t fit there either.
It was so confusing.
At that networking meeting, I blended in. I found somewhere that I could use my voice for the first time in nearly two years and I vowed to sign up and keep attending.
Are you using networking as a strategy to help you start or grow your business?
I think you REALLY should be.
I know there are a ton of barriers you my have to navigate to get yourself there. Location, cost, emotions, childcare. All of these can play a part in keeping women like you and me away from the networking scene but there are ways to get round that
I’m aware you might also be reading this and thinking, that’s great but I’ve got zoom fatigue and nothing is separating me from my joggers. I feel you my friend.
Nonetheless, I want to highlight some of the huge benefits of networking for both you and your business in the hopes of tempting you along to one of ours or a network suited to your stage in business. So let’s dive in to the benefits networking has brought me as a female founder.
My brain turned to mush in those first four sleepless years. This sleep deprivation had a huge impact on my confidence. Prior to having a child, I had a career. Networking gave me a chance to tap back into that and express a side of myself that was screaming to get out.
It wasn’t just my experience as a working woman I was sharing.
At the meetings I attended we would share everything from platforms we used, social media tips, to how to occupy the kids and get stuff done.
In a networking group there will be all kinds of people, from all stages of business and there is solid gold in that knowledge sharing.
Not only can it build your own confidence as a woman in business but you can also get help to continue to grow your own knowledge and skills.
I always advise people to seek out sector specific networking opportunities if they can.
While the mums in business networking group was the way I dipped my toe back in, sector specific networking opportunities were crucial to me founding and establishing a successful social enterprise.
Sector specific networking does what it says on the tin. It surrounds you with people in a similar area as you.
You can find them for all kinds of businesses, some can be pretty general and some very niche but in these types of meetings I was able to get in front of other key businesses to make them aware of what I did, and I was also able to hear about sector specific opportunities for business growth.
This is the reason I heard about the crowdfunding programme that helped us launch back in 2018, and also how I heard about an investment opportunity we pitched for last year.
In a busy week with kids, home and everything in between, I know it can feel like networking is a little luxury that you just can’t afford but if growing your business is on your list of things to do in 2022 I suggest you seek out some sector specific networking opportunities and add them to your calendar.
Ultimately networking is about building relationships. I have so many friends and acquaintances that I met in those early days of business mum networking meetings.
One of my best friends and closest working relationships was forged in those very early days and I will always be so grateful for that.
Equally when we launched our own meetings in 2019 I’ve stayed pretty close to the journeys of those women who first attended.
I remember Cag cycling the canal to get to us, Michelle taking her first steps into PR, Beth came on board as one of our directors and we had met years previously at a similar meeting.
It helps you practice key skills for developing your business
A networking meeting is a great training group for selling yourself which many of us will attest to hating.
It gives you an opportunity to hone a pitch that tells people what you do and how you do it.
With practice it rolls off the tongue and with practice you are more likely to speak up and grab hold of opportunities that come your way.
So now that I’ve told you all the great reasons that you should be regularly adding networking events to your business building calendar I want to tell you about us.
We are holding some really informal online networking sessions every fortnight. These sessions are a chance for us to simply introduce ourselves and what we do and ask the rest of the group to help us with one thing.
In our last session we had some really diverse asks from guest appearances on podcasts to having a look at someone's social media posts and giving them some love.
You can come along with absolutely anything and know that the community will do it’s best to help you out. It’s that simple.
Find details of our online events here.
& finally I want to let you know that we are taking the steps to relaunch our physical networking meetings. They got cancelled due to covid and it’s time to bring them back.
From everything I have said above, I hope you can see that I really understand the connection aspect of being a mum in business and it’s with that at the front of my mind that we decided to go ahead and not only relaunch but expand our monthly meeting schedule.
If you are interested in coming along please make sure you are keeping an eye on our social media for the full relaunch and, if you want to be a host? Read on.
If we want to take the Mubo network across the UK and help more mums to start and grow a brilliant business, I’m going to need your help.
If you feel like you could host a monthly networking meeting in your area, please get in touch. As a non-profit we are not able to offer you financial compensation but our volunteer coordinators will get benefits such as free membership, monthly coaching calls and access to any future events/courses. If you’d like to chat about getting started with your own group, we’ll help you get it established. To register your details as a prospective host please email [email protected] .