After a lengthly chat with Laura about this subject I felt the need to get it out there to help other people in my situation, so here goes!
Just under 2 years ago Laura set up the first Networking Mummies Warwickshire meeting. As she’d been out of the area for 6 years she was unsure of who would turn up and as a long term friend with children asked me to go along to support her. Now I like to think I’m a good friend to Laura (and others) but the thought of this made me sick infact it made my stomach feel like a washing machine on spin cycle. Why? Because I didn’t know what networking was all about. When she said “Networking mummies meeting” I thought it would be a group of mums sat around judging each other on how they brought up their children- and I definitely didn’t want to be part of that! At the time I was coming to the end of my maternity leave with my second child and although I knew I didn’t want to go back to my career in retail management I hadn’t got a clue what I did want to do. This was still not enough to make me want to go ‘Network’ and I made my excuses. Lucky for me Laura wasn’t buying them and very gently persuaded me to go along.
The problem with me was confidence. I’d just had my second child, been off work 12 months, had spent most of it at home with the children, lost touch with a lot of friends and the outside world- I’m sure many of you can relate to this. I spent a lot of my day just waiting for 6.30pm to arrive for the husband to come home so I could have at least some adult conversation but also a break from my demanding yet adorable children. I had put on weight and found myself struggling just to do the everyday things that mums need to do. My confidence had taken a real knock and yet before having children I was confident, loud and outgoing- I barely recognised myself.
I’m so glad I went along to that Networking event because as the saying goes…. The rest is history!
As some of you are aware it was at that meeting I met a lovely lady (sharon Bott) who introduced me to an amazing company which I know work in partnership with. We met for coffee (again a massive strain on my comfort zone- a coffee with a stranger!) and I became happily involved. I wasn’t sure what I was getting involved in, but Sharon was enthusiastic and showed she believed in me- I trusted her.
During the last 2 years I have stuck with Networking, I know I need to do it to increase my business. But it’s not a case of sticking with it really because I love it. It didn’t take me long to build up my self esteem again. Thanks to Forever and the team and also to Networking Mummies, It was just little baby steps and everyone around me within the two companies are so supportive of me whatever direction I go in. The trainings and self development you learn with Forever are amazing and the affordable workshops that Networking mummies provided me really helped me develop skills and confidence. You meet fantastic people networking from all different backgrounds and with completely different businesses. I now refer only businesses I’ve personally met or have heard great feedback about from other networkers, and obviously Laura and myself always refer people within our network all the time. You never know where a conversation will lead so hiding behind social media isn’t the answer. Don’t get me wrong social media is amazing but nothing beats face to face networking. For example at a networking mummies coffee morning I can remember getting into a conversation with a lady and finding out her passion was restoring french furniture, we had a lovely chat but at the time I didn’t think it had gone anywhere. A couple of weeks later the lady called my mobile and explained she worked for a large skin clinic and placed an order totalling nearly £900!! You just don’t know how excited I was or thankful that I’d gone to that free event.
What a difference 2 years can make. To go from hating the thought of networking to becoming co-owner of Networking mummies in itself was a massive step, but it felt right. I had become such an active part of the Warwickshire branch that when the opportunity arised for me to become co-owner I jumped at it. My confidence continues to grow as I develop and coach others in a range of different area’s- from coaching them to have their own business, to providing workshops for networking mummies. I love what I do and love helping people be successful. It’s funny because I now feel like I’m repaying back to people the help and support I’ve had for the last two years and helping them find their own confidence.
If you haven’t yet come along to a networking mummies event don’t hold back because of your confidence- you are interesting, you do have a fantastic story and you will have something in common with others there because they all felt the same at some stage in their life. We don’t charge membership, don’t judge and are very relaxed so you really do have nothing to fear, just look out for me (I’ll be the one pretending not to be nervous) and come say Hi, it really is that simple.
By Stacey Calder