When my wife had a new baby and I went back to work it was quite a lonely time for her, so we eventually decided to look for baby groups. Looking back, during the first year especially this was one of the best things she ever did. From these groups she was able to network with other mothers who helped us understand the things that they went through together.
Having the same issues, same challenges and the same ways of dealing with things there was someone to talk to, who may or may not have the answers, but who were always there to discuss anything from immediate concerns through to life in general.
Recently while walking through Costa Coffee with my daughter I realised that quite often I would see two or three young mothers together, but rarely any business owners meeting up in the same informal manner to discuss the running of their businesses.
What I come across quite often is that the business owners who I regularly speak with also enjoy meeting others who have had similar issues and would welcome the opportunity to share their own views and experiences. When I see young mothers who have become so well organised at getting together I can’t help but think that the business community can learn a thing or two from them.
Nothing Beats Face to Face
Some of the more complex issues of running a successful company can’t always be fully understood through occasional emails and phone calls. Whether it’s marketing or managing staff, those who deal with these issues are in most types of businesses and by talking with each other new solutions can be found to existing problems.
As with a new mother, a new business owner can have a lonely path before them during the early days unless they take the initiative to reach out to others and take the first steps towards establishing their own network. What I’ve learnt from new mothers is that they are especially great at doing three things and they translate into the business world seamlessly.
- Meet other business owners - Get out into the world, network, find people who share the same problems, find people who share the same opportunities. Talk to people in your sector, talk to people outside your sector. Find opportunities to gain expertise and pass on information.
- Build networks and support groups - Networking doesn’t always have to be around formal business events, it can also be based around informal activities where smaller groups can enjoy life as well as business.
- Don’t sit at your desk waiting for this to happen - Be the proactive one and don’t be afraid to reach out for help. It’s all too easy in the early days of a new business to isolate yourself with your challenges and aspirations even when there are other supportive members from a diverse business community who can help you move forwards more effectively.
Be the Brave One
Being a new mother must be one of the hardest things in the world. I can see with hindsight that these groups helped us much more than I could have anticipated beforehand and we now have a support network that we also know on an individual basis. Not only is there an abundance of invaluable information and experience out there, but also the enjoyment of camaraderie that can be found on common ground. This is something that you can do today and requires little effort. Start the ball rolling and organise a meeting to catch up with fellow colleagues or find a local group. Be the brave one, reach out and just do it.
To get you started I have listed a few of the national networking groups but make sure you look for local ones too: