*This article was written by Daniel Sherwin of DadSolo.com. If you are interested in having your writing hosted on A Modern Mom’s Life, please read the guidelines for guest posts.*
When you’re caring for a family and building a business simultaneously, every spare minute counts. Networking might not seem like a high priority, but it can have big benefits for your fledgling company. With an efficient targeted approach, you can maximize your time and build a powerful network. Find some helpful tips and resources below.
Why Is Networking Important for Aspiring Entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurship can be a lonely experience, especially in the early stages. Your network is a community you can turn to for support, advice, and commiseration. When you’re deep in the weeds of school runs and bedtime routines, connections with other business-minded adults can provide the motivation and energy you need.
In practical terms, a robust professional network can also help you:
- Build name recognition
- Find leads and referrals
- Establish yourself as an industry expert
- Learn from other entrepreneurs
- Find funding
Online networking is a lifesaver for busy parent entrepreneurs — you can squeeze it in at naptime or after the kids go to bed. There’s never been a better time to go digital; after the shift to remote work in 2020, professionals are more comfortable than ever building relationships over the internet.
Places to network online include:
- University alumni networks
- Social media
- Professional association forums
- Digital conferences
- Online entrepreneur groups
- Women’s business associations
Don’t try to do it all — find one or two places where your ideal contacts are most active, and spend your time there.
Nothing builds relationships like face-to-face conversations. As often as possible, book a babysitter, and attend a local networking event hosted by a young professionals group, business association, or chamber of commerce. When you’re ready to invest more time and money, sign up for a conference or workshop through an industry group or professional association.
Sometimes, parents need to get creative:
- Chat with other parents. Make professional contacts while you’re waiting for the kids after play practices and sporting events.
- Network during the day. Attend lunch and learn sessions during school hours.
- Host networking events for parents. Chat about business while you push strollers or watch little ones at the playground.
Make the Most of Networking
Maximize your limited free time by setting networking goals. Aim to interact online with three industry influencers each week, for example, or schedule two follow-up phone calls after every in-person event.
Are you planning to use your network to find funding? Be prepared with a thoughtful, comprehensive business plan. As a backup, consider business-development grants. Competition is hot; increase your chances of success by searching for industry-specific awards, checking eligibility rules carefully, and taking the time to craft a compelling application.
Potential funding sources in Canada include Futurpreneur and government grants. Local organizations, such as the Kingston Economic Development Corporation in Kingston, Canada, often maintain lists of grant opportunities.
How to Maintain Relationships in Your Network
A professional network requires consistent upkeep. Some ways to maintain your relationships are:
- Scheduling coffee dates
- Interacting on social media
- Making valuable introductions
- Offering your help and expertise
- Sending thank-you notes for favours
Networking as a Parent and Entrepreneur
Done efficiently, networking can help you build a business without sacrificing family time. Read up on ways to balance parenting and working from home, to help you stay on track while building your business.
Daniel Sherwin considers raising his nine-year-old daughter and six-year-old son both an adventure and a blessing. He created Dadsolo.com to provide other single dads/parents with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey to parenthood.
Join the conversation: how do you keep up business relationships and grow your network? Share in the comments!