Being a work-at-home mom presents networking challenges, but staying connected to potential business opportunities when you're "off the clock" is the key to career building.
In this issue of Working Mom 3.0, writer Stephanie Taylor Christensen explores how to sharpen skills you already have, to find success.
When you're a work-at-home mom, it's too easy to put limitations on potential career success, simply because, on the surface, a mom who works outside the home has more opportunities to network. Since I became a work-at-home mom, I've realized that success or failure basically hinges on two simple truths: having passion for what you do, and making every second count — from your home office and when you're "off the clock." You don't have to attend trade shows, conferences or press events to generate business. The truth is, plenty of networking opportunities exist for stay-at-home working moms that don't require putting on a business suit or even finding a sitter. The key is to advance your skills in striking up conversations, listening and observing what's going on around you.
Have heard about the "ABCs" (always be closing) of sales? Successful work-at-home moms have a secret ABC mantra of their own: "Always be connecting." This doesn't mean you have to transform into a self-serving opportunist, obnoxiously pitch your business to every person your meet on the playground or constantly be connected to technology. It means that you should view every person you meet as a potential opportunity for growth — whether in the form of a business relationship, or simply as a way to learn something new. Every mom you meet was something (and likely, someone) else before she took to the playground for "fun" on the weekends. When you inquire about people's life stories, you unlock new opportunities and connections.
In marketing, many million-dollar decisions are based on the feedback of complete strangers. They are called focus groups, and while there is a formal methodology to recruitment and analysis of their feedback, you can apply the same idea as a work-at-home mom success strategy.
Working from home doesn't mean that you lack access to the outside world. Use other people to your advance your insights, just as researchers do. If you're in a conversation, really listen to what people tell you about themselves. Observe the cues those around you give, wherever you are. If you're in a crowded store waiting in line, what are people wearing? If you're in the park, look at the books people read and the gear they have. Simple observations can help you spot trends, and inspire new ideas.
Read other people's blogs and websites that are related to your business. Do a Google search on your competitors or for key search terms related to your career, and stay on the pulse of what's happening. There is always a new need waiting for a solution — be the person who fills it and you'll never be short on career success.
The modern woman is redefining what it means to have a successful career. Rather than feeling torn between climbing the corporate ladder and having a happy family life, many women are choosing to merge the two and transition careers from a traditional role to a more flexible one. Working Mom 3.0 is reinventing the definition of "working mom," as office hours are held at home and revolve around nap times.
This column begins by chronicling the experiences of Stephanie Taylor Christensen, a former marketing professional turned self-employed stay-at-home mom, writer and yoga instructor, as she strives to redefine "having it all" on her own time and terms.
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