Even if you are currently on a career break, networking is still important if you plan to go back to your career or even start a business. And this is why:
Networking helps you to:
- continue to build and raise your profile
- keep in touch with trends in your sector
- develop and nurture relationships
- discover fresh ideas and inspiration
- identify potential future employers
But it’s not so easy to network with a young baby or toddler in tow. So how do you network effectively when you are a career break or on maternity leave?
First remember that networking doesn’t just have to be about the big in-person events. There are alternatives. For example you can network online (Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn).
If you prefer smaller groups, what about networking with just one or two people at a time over coffee or lunch. Or a more social event over dinner such as my City Conversations events.
Whatever you do, don’t leave networking until you NEED to. By then it’s often too late.
Networking can be done on a small scale without being overwhelming. And I’m certainly not advocating that you need to start on day 1 of your career break or maternity leave.
10 top tips to network effectively on a career break
Here are my top tips to network effectively when you are on a career break or on maternity leave.
- Polish your LinkedIn profile and make sure it’s up-to-date. Not on LinkedIn? You’ll want to know about my free 10 Day LinkedIn Challenge.
- Join the relevant industry groups on LinkedIn. Comment on discussions, ask interesting questions that give others an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, get involved, share posts, comment on posts, post useful articles that you’ve seen.
- If you know you’re not planning to go back to work for a couple of years, you only need a few minutes, no more than 15-20 minutes a week, to network online. If you’re planning to start job hunting in 3 to 6 months, take 10-15 minutes every day.
- Is there a Facebook group for your industry or your role? Or a group for mums in your area. If you plan to start a business, there are some fabulously supportive groups on Facebook. One I particularly like is Ruby McGuire’s Rock Your Fabulous Biz (though not specifically aimed at mums). Going back to a career? Then check out my City Conversations group. Follow the discussions and reply to posts where appropriate. Be helpful, be friendly. People will remember you for that.
- If you are on maternity leave, make the most of your KIT days to network within your company. If you’re taking a KIT day, can you use that time to network over a lunch or drinks after work too?
- Don’t wait until you NEED to network – by then it’s too late.
- Check what is happening in your local area – does your NCT branch offer Mums Night Out events (you don’t usually need to be a member)? Have you attended a Women’s Institute meeting? What groups spark your interest on Meetup. What about hobbies or interests? Is there a local group that meets? What events are available on Eventbrite?
- Is there a local evening or daytime class you could attend? Check out Floodlight for inspiration – every course you can possibly imagine: from interior design to family history, from film studies to counselling, from colour psychology to flamenco.
- Attend industry events or conferences. Network in advance and find out who else is attending the event – is there a LinkedIn group? an online delegate list? Twitter hashtag? Chat to people online to establish a relationship in advance.
- If you see an article that might be of interest or use to somebody that you have met online through your networking activities or in person, pass it on. It never hurts to be helpful. I firmly believe that what goes around, comes around.
Yes you can network effectively AND with confidence when you are on a career break or maternity leave. The good news is that when you network effectively:
- you are more likely to hear about potential job openings
- you keep up-to-date with industry trends
- you get fresh ideas and inspiration about what to do next
- you get the opportunity to identify potential future employers.
I hope you enjoyed these top tips on networking while on a career break. And if you’d like to join me at your next networking event, check out my City Conversations events.
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