WAHM Networking - Online and Otherwise

“If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard.”  Those immortal words were spoken by none other than my hero: Dorothy Gale.  We Kansas girls have to stick together and all that. 

What about you?  When you make the decision to work from home, how will you get the word out?  Even with the snazziest of websites, if no one ever sees it, how can it help you?  Sure, you can pay money to get the word out, or you can network.

Creating Your Network

Your network can be made up of friends, co-workers, mentors, family members, and even mere acquaintances. You meet people all over: in elevators, clubs, the gym, waiting in line.  Once you start a business, you’ll find that everyone you meet could be a potential client, customer, or network member.

When you work at home, however, one of the main places you’ll build a network is through the internet, and this is where social media can be really useful. Some good starts include creating an interactive blog, or signing up for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. 

Starting a blog is an excellent way to show off your capabilities and give information about your business. By soliciting and responding to comments on the blog, you'll be expanding your network; and you can express you skill sets for the viewing of potential clients. Showing how you can provide value to a client is a great first step in bringing them into your network. 

Using Facebook.com is a great way to let friends and clients connect with you.  Just be sure to keep your profile and pages professional.  Facebook offers features (read: photos) that create a thin line between personal and business.  Create a separate page (not a separate account—that’s not allowed) for your professional self and your personal self.

Use twitter.com to show off work you’ve done or to connect with people you'd like to meet.  Also, increasing the number in your network is done rather quickly through this outlet.  Using hash tags (#WAHM) to both search and post will help you create a stronger, more relevant network. 

LinkedIn.com is the most professional and business-like of the social media websites at the moment, and it's becoming more and more heavily used by those who work at home as entrepreneurs. Use this network to join professional groups and associations, staying in contact with others who are doing work similar to yours.

Another great way to use the internet in your networking endeavors is to search for conferences in your field. Should your income allow, sign up for the conferences. Even if you know the topics so well you could teach them, the main reason to attend conferences and conventions is to meet, greet, and network. Try to discover online and through social media who will be attending the conference, then begin networking with them online. Once you arrive at the conference, the face to face networking with create a stronger bond. Be sure to bring along business cards and info about your new business; while meeting someone face to face goes a long way toward having them remember you, giving them something to remember you by is even better.

How to Network Successfully

First, remember not to demand too much too soon.  Become a friend and an ally, not just someone who is constantly asking for favors.  The best network is one in which you can express a problem or dilemma, and people will offer to help without you needing to ask.  The only way to get to this point is to be helpful to others, as well.

If you do use one of your network connections to talk to someone else, don’t beat around the bush.  Your first statement should relate this to them.  For example, introduce yourself by saying, “While I was speaking with Jane Doe about my photography business, she suggested I speak with you.” 

Be Realistic, Humble, and Prepared to Offer Something in Return

Networking is about using someone else’s connections, but that is a two-way street.  If she helps you out, remember to return the favor when she requests that you do the same. On the flip side, don't ask a favor of anyone you're not willing to recommend in return.

Remember that social media is supposed to be social.  So, when you begin to build your network, be friendly.  Also, don’t overlook everyday connections.  Avoid criticism and disrespect (the adage "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" is fitting).  Viral networking can help spread the good word about you, but it also opens up a superhighway of communication of bad if you get careless.

Networking is a great way to get leads for your business.  Contact, connect, and treat everybody like your next best customer.  Sometimes you need not look any further than your own backyard to connect the dots to your dream.

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Anonymous's picture

jeff @ sustainable Life blog wrote:

Tue, 02/22/2011 - 23:16 Comment #: 1

Great tips for working at home, jessica. I think that a lot of people under-value the network that they create when they are working at an office, then fail to leverage them if they do end up transitioning to working at home or working for themselves.

Anonymous's picture

First Gen American wrote:

Wed, 02/23/2011 - 09:30 Comment #: 2

I think you hit on one of the keys. You need to tap a variety of places to build your network. There was a time were I worked 3 jobs and went to school. I couldn't go anywhere without running into someone I knew because I was in so many different places. I think that's true from an online standpoint too. Don't just hang around with your own niche, find others as well that are related to what you want to do.

Jessica Schmeidler's picture

Jessica Schmeidler wrote:

Wed, 02/23/2011 - 13:07 Comment #: 3

You two are absolutely right. I think so many people get caught up in the how-to of networking, they lose sight of the fact they're already doing so every day of their life, without even trying. How you maintain and further cultivate those relationships, as you two suggest, is what determines how useful those daily networks will be to you.

Anonymous's picture

WAHM Networking – Online and Otherwise | MomVestin wrote:

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 02:47 Comment #: 4

[...] Read more: WAHM Networking – Online and Otherwise | MomVesting [...]

Anonymous's picture

WAHM Networking – Online and Otherwise | MomVesting | Ultima wrote:

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 08:45 Comment #: 5

[...] more: WAHM Networking – Online and Otherwise | MomVesting Similar [...]

Anonymous's picture

Shaun wrote:

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 04:31 Comment #: 6

I think that you would have to be the perfect advocate for this Jessica as you do it very well yourself. Some people are naturally good at networking while others need to work a lot harder at it and make a conscious effort... unfortunately I fall into the latter category!

Thanks for the reminder!

Jessica Schmeidler's picture

Jessica Schmeidler wrote:

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 14:31 Comment #: 7

Thank you, Shaun! :)

Anonymous's picture

Ultimate Guide for How to Work at Home | MomVesting wrote:

Thu, 01/19/2012 - 21:48 Comment #: 8

[...] at home can feel lonely sometimes, so networking with WAHMs is important for sanity and [...]

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