When I started my coaching practice, I was juggling: a digital marketing role, coach training, building out the infrastructure for the business and—oh yeah—being a mom to seven and four-year-old daughters. When experts told me I needed to network in order to get my business up and running, my head sank in despair.
When am I going to find time to do that?
How will I go to events and coffees and lunches and drinks?
Is this the wrong time for me to be doing this?
Knowing that adding two to three events per week was most likely out of scope for my life at that moment, I decided to run an experiment. I naturally see a lot of people throughout my day. School drop-off, kids’ birthday parties on the weekends, extended family gatherings, the line at the local coffee shop—these were all opportunities to talk about the business and I was letting them pass me by.
I adopted a new mantra: Network where you are.
And to this day, while it did not come easily at first, I credit it as THE tactic that officially launched my company. Sure, the website, social media presence and successful client experiences helped, but it was the practice of sharing my message and my mission with a multitude of people, and being clear about ways they could support me that drove my referrals, connections and momentum.
With my clients who are busy working parents in the midst of career transitions or job searches, we use the same approach and see remarkable success in gaining traction and landing the right jobs for them. Here’s how they do it:
2. When you’re in a conversation with someone who shows up in your natural daily path, play this game: how seamlessly can I plant a seed about my job search into the conversation? Practice new and different ways to bring up the topic to keep it both fresh and interesting for you and your audience.
3. Remember, it’s about practice—not perfection. The more you speak your pitch out loud (without dying), the better you will get at delivering it—tailoring it to each new audience and owning it. You will stumble. You will lose your way. Learn from those moments instead of beating yourself up about them.
4. Use these conversations as a way to learn about the work others are passionate about, their roles and what’s possible out there outside of being a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer, etc. Lead with your curiosity so you can expand your understanding of what a potential path could look like for you.
As you walk through your life increasing the frequency of your pitch conversations, you will go through a period of battling "the ick factor." It will feel awkward or salesy or fake or whatever label for fear that resonates with you. But make no mistake—fear is what it is. It’s the fear that you will forget how to string sentences together in that moment. That you’re an impostor. It’s the fear that you will get what you want and fail at it. Know that on the other side of that fear is the ability to control your message so that you can take charge of your career and your life. This skill you’re practicing for a job search right now will eventually translate into authentic self-promotion in your future roles and organizations. And at the heart of these conversations, there is a pride in what you do, a hunger for what you want to learn and a passion for the problems in the world you want to solve. If that’s not the conversation you’re having, that may be part of why this is so hard for you. If it is, step out of your own way and go forth in finding your collaborators, wherever you are.