Plenty of moms today stay at home. After a year of battling the decision to quit my job, I finally “put my foot down”, as they say, and returned home to raise my daughter. It wasn’t the easiest decision, but, let me tell you, it sure wasn’t the toughest! I enjoy every minute of being home to raise my child.
Furthermore, being home has done wonders for my family as a unit, and drawn us closer together. When I was working my full time job I barely had time to prepare a decent meal. But today? I’m a health nut, and so is the whole family (ha)!
But now, there’s another dilemma.
Being a stay at home mom has not affected my personality, of course, so I still have a lot of creative energy pent up inside! I thought to myself one day, “what better way to use this energy than to work towards a goal—perhaps start a business?” Not only would it bring in a nice supplementary income for my family, but having a business (or craft or hobby) would enhance my creative skills and strengthen my business expertise. I call it the project of my lifetime.
The first thing I did was a little soul searching to seek God’s direction for the type of business or project He would have me to embark on. I realized right away that although my personality was suited for several types of business ventures (selling crafts, designing websites, or providing secretarial services), I would soon either have to narrow it down to one choice, or start a business that combined all or most of my skills and interests.
For me, choosing the right business was the hardest part. Once I settled on freelance web design and writing, it soon became my ultimate goal to find out as much as possible about these particular industries. In my thought, education and information is what separates the amateurs from the professionals. My goal was to be a professional in my field. This is where networking is highly important.
If you’re like me, the internet is probably one of the very best tools you can use for research. Not only is it a few feet away from me as I embark on my daily chores, but I keep my computer on at all times. Thankfully, we are using a broadband connection and can stay online 24/7 without having to worry about tying up the phone line. This, I should stress, is very important for moms who have businesses that require them to be online quite often, but who will need access to the phone as well.
Once online, I begin my networking research by going to a search engine. My favorite one is Google just because of its enormous searching capabilities. As a former library assistant, I can attest that Google is highly recommended in the academic and librarianship fields. I search for information in my fields using as many search terms and combination of terms as possible. With each result that I feel is important to me, I visit its webpage and bookmark it for future reference.
Once I’ve bookmarked a bunch of pages, I go through each of these websites and study them, taking notes on what I feel is important to me in my field. I promise, you will find contacts this way, and it will be so much easier to network once you have a list of people whose companies and organizations you have researched online. In addition to an internet search, I feel that it is also important to find any books or other publications that are related to your industry. Study them and find out more about the authors. Find out if they have websites and how to reach them.
Now that you have a compiled list of contact people, it’s time to work the list! Before contacting these people individually (they are probably very busy), see if they offer newsletters. You are looking for information on how they got where they are today. Remember, you are the amateur. They are the professionals. So, any information you receive from this contact list regarding their biographies and information on the field itself is important enough for your notes. Take plenty of notes, and keep them in a file folder. Every time you find a new piece of information on your subject matter, drop it in your file folder. And finally, if you absolutely need to contact your list of professionals for more information, I would recommend sending an email.
But don’t forget about networking with fellow amateurs! You can make some of your best friends and closest contacts online by joining mail lists such as Yahoo groups or MSN groups. These groups along with technologies such as Instant Messenger make it easier for you to find people with similar personal and professional interests and literally network with them on a regular basis. You will find out so much about your industry and probably learn more from each other regarding your profession than in any other way.
Last but not least, be sure to network with the most important contact of all: your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Remember that it is He who gave you the passion and the calling, and it is He who will be with you each step of the way on your new journey.
About the author: Demetria Zinga is the founder and owner of www.faith-media.com, a technology and consulting firm which specializes in web design and hosting, graphics and print designs, internet marketing, and e-training. She is also the founder of www.christianladies.net, an interactive ezine, blog, and podcast for Christian women.