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Being a mompreneur, and especially a work-at-home-mom, means I spend a lot more time talking to my laptop and phone than I do chatting with live people in person. Don’t get me wrong: working at home has unbeatable perks, like the “commute” from my bedroom to my office in the den downstairs, the comfy dress code, and the fabulous work environment I have total control over.
But nothing beats the power of connecting with people “in real life.”
Real life connections = Networking
When you connect with like-minded individuals, you have a fantastic opportunity to begin building relationships that will serve you professionally and personally. None of us small business owners can “know it all” or “do it all” all by ourselves. We need to learn from others, to get help spreading the word about our business, to meet new prospects, and to have an opportunity to share what (and who) we know with others.
My coaching clients are used to hearing me say: “Go be where your target audience IS.” I’ve just returned from speaking at the world’s largest blogging conference: BlogHer ’12 in New York City. There were over 4,500 women there. I chose to attend BlogHer because my target audience is moms who run their own companies, and there were a gazillion of them there.
Learn more about how video can help your small business.
As a speaker, I had an opportunity to expand my visibility and credibility to my prospects. And I had the chance to meet many of my clients, friends, colleagues, sponsors and vendors in real life who I had previously only known online. What’s more, my friends and I introduced each other to other people we know, and all of our networks expanded.
When you meet your prospects in person at a conference, you have the chance to attend sessions where you can learn together, then compare notes afterwards. There are opportunities to share a meal or coffee together which allows for informal “getting to know you” chats. By getting to know each other, you begin building a relationship. And relationships (with your prospects, clients, collaborators, vendors, team mates) are the key to building a successful business.
The benefits of networking for mompreneurs
Most of us women are social creatures, but promoting ourselves and our businesses can be tough. Why not let your professional network do it for you? By building and maintaining a strong network of like-minded women who love you and what you do, you get powerful, “word of mouth” marketing and PR for your business at a price that can’t be beat: free. Of course, what goes around, comes around, so be sure that you’re helping your contacts out by doing the same.
What else can networking do for you?
- Increase your visibility and credibility to your target audience
- Find the resources you need to grow your business (web/graphic designer, virtual assistant, copywriter, mentor/coach, marketing specialist, etc.)
- Help connect your friends to people they need to know (Pass the karma around!)
- Discover new opportunities for business, learning and collaborating
By far, networking at conferences your target audience attends provides great bang for your buck. Check out this list of conferences for women (including my own Mom Biz Retreats).