I babble about business, babies, and parenthood on this blog, so those of you who come here to read my posts on entrepreneurship but do not have babies, please forward this post to your friends and family who do have babies. For those who have babies and dabble in business, these tips might be right up your alley. If you have babies and no interest in business, then send it on to the folks you know who are knee-deep in business and encourage them to have a baby! To read other great baby tips, check out the baby tips category.
Thom Singer, our very own Austin-based networking guru, bravely accepted my invitation to write a guest baby tip. Thom Singer is the director of business development for vcfo in Austin, Texas. He is also a professional speaker and the author of two books on the power of business relationships and networking: “Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships” and “The ABC’s of Networking.” He is currently working on “Some Assembly Required for Women” with co-author Marny Lifshen. He also blogs at Some Assembly Required. And now here is his fabulous baby tip:
Networking And The Stay-At-Home Parent
Having children changes everything. It doesn’t matter what kind of life you lived before or how your family handles the arrival of your bundle of joy(s), introducing kids into the equation shakes up all of your priorities.
When my first daughter, Jackie, was born I was thirty years old. I was working in a sales position, making decent money, and building my professional reputation and network of contacts. I was ambitious, and did not think that being a parent would make my life all that different. My wife had planned to quit her job and stay home with our children, and I figured I would continue along my career path un-affected by fatherhood.
While on maternity leave my wife received the word that she was being promoted to the job she had desired for seven years with her employer. While she did not make as much money as I did at the time, the opportunity was too good to pass up, and after much discussion and soul searching, I found myself quitting my job to become a stay-at-home dad for two years.
Being a full-time parent is hard work. Don’t kid yourself unless you have taken on this responsibility for more than a few days. There are no days off, no coffee breaks, no business trips, expense accounts or anything else that is an accepted corporate perk. I had never thought growing up that I would be a stay-at-home dad, as there was no such job description or role models who did such a thing. In the late 1990’s the concept was still even more rare than it is today.
I found this time to be very challenging, but also extremely rewarding. Eleven years later Jackie and I have a very close relationship and we share a wonderful bond from those early days of always being together. However, I also knew that this was a temporary role, as my wife would have preferred to have been at home, and I longed to have a blossoming career. Thus I spent much of the time continuing to network and cultivate relationships that would allow me to one day return to the work world. Although there were some naysayers who warned me that my professional career would never recover from the two years away, the reality was because of the active networking I was able to bounce right back into my career when the time was right.
Whether you are a man or a woman, if you decide to take on the role of stay-at-home parenting while your children are young, you need to keep your professional relationships alive. This will not happen by accident, and it takes time and effort (things in short supply when babies are teething, learning to walk, getting sick, and just being cute as all get out!), but neglecting your network can make it much more difficult to transition back to the workforce when that time arrives.
I was very proactive and made sure I had one breakfast and one lunch meeting each week. I was lucky, as Jackie was a very agreeable baby who was happy to sit quietly on my lap or in her stroller while I talked business with friends and former co-workers. While some people are self-conscious about bringing their kids along to business meetings, I never looked at this as a negative. Caring for Jackie was my job, and it was just as important (or more important!) as being a lawyer, accountant or financial planner. As she got older and was more mobile, I would often need to be more creative on setting up these meetings, working around my wife’s schedule or trading babysitting with a neighbor in order to have such appointments. However, there is always a way when you realize that something is a priority.
When it came time to return to work it was easy to put the word out that I was looking for a job as I was still a visible part of the business community. This was as much a state-of-mind as it was a result of my actions.
Choosing to leave the work world to be home with your kids can be both difficult and rewarding. The isolation of not having other grown-ups around can leave one feeling very disconnected. If you can relate to these feelings, then you need to take charge of your networking efforts and get back out into the world. Your future opportunities will all come from people, so you need to make, grow and keep your business relationships.
Have A Great Day.
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Note to new readers: these tips are based on our experiences, as well as those of our friends and readers. Please always consult with your doctor before implementing any tip that might impact the health of your baby. If you have a tip you’d like to submit please send an email to blogger at babblesoft dot com. Please check the ‘baby tips’ category to make sure your tip (in some form or fashion) hasn’t already been posted. If it has been, feel free to comment on that post and support the tip. We also welcome respectful challenges to the tips because as is noted in our inaugural baby tip ‘everything is relative!’ We will, of course, give anyone who submits a tip we publish credit and lotsa link love!Author: Aruni | Filed under: baby, baby tips, networking, parenting, stay at home dad | Tags: baby tip, business relationships, networking, networking as a parent, networking quotient, some assembly required, Some Assembly Required for Women, stay at home dad, The ABC's of Networking, thom singer, vcfo | 3 Comments »