Being a mother is a topic I rarely discuss when it comes to networking. It isn't that I am not a proud parent--because I am, but there is something about my business life that I have tried to keep separate from my son.
But somehow, all that has changed. My son at 4 has decided that he wants to collect business cards--and it isn't some passing phase--we has been doing it for months now.
It is clear that something that I am doing is wearing off on my son. It doesn't matter where we go--the grocery store, the dentist, the mall... my son marches his little skinny legs up to the front desk and asks if they have a card. He then puts it into his own little business card book, (an old one I gave him a few months ago because I had gotten a new one), and when we get home he can tell me all about the people he met during the day--in fact he remembers how he got each card, and what business they are in, and where we were that day.
My son is a natural networker. He is not shy, and doesn't know that his behavior is peculiar (although still cute). He also has an amazing memory, which is good since he can't read yet, so he wouldn't otherwise know whose card was whose.
I suppose I lot can be learned by such a natural, innocent act of connection. Beyond the pleasure my 4-year-old gets from collecting the cards, he is making contact with people each day. He remembers them and once they make it into the book--they are his "friends."
The benefit of this to me? If I am able to get over the artificial barrier that I developed separating business and family--then I can enjoy the fact that my little one pulls me out of my shell, and forces me to meet people I wouldn't have otherwise. The lady at the bank gives me the lollipop, and Nate a card each visit, and he gets cards each week at our favorite diner, and at the pharmacy too. I get to meet these people--and they are all great contacts for me.
Sometimes I forget that networking is something that shouldn't end at the end of the work day--funny that my kid should be the one to remind me!
Meghan Wier is author of Confessions of an Introvert, the Shy Girl's Guide to Career, Networking and Getting the Most out of Life. More information about Meghan Wier can be found at www.meghanwier.com.