Why Networking Is Important in Child Care
Staying up-to-date on current trends in early childhood education is a huge part of my job. I do it mostly through researching trends, following blogs, and attending conferences. At first I thought that to be effective I had to find out all there was to know about the child care business and share that information on my blog. During the last several conferences, however, I found that although learning new information is important, simply talking to people in the industry and networking with passionate childcare advocates is just as important.
At a recent conference I met a businesswoman named Karen who had just bought a business called Creation Station. Although the business had been struggling to reach profitability, Karen was really inspired by the concept so she decided to inject her passion, creativity, and hardwork to make it a success.
So what is Creation Station? Creation Station takes surplus or recycled items and makes them into amazing “Creation” kits for kids to create anything their heart desires. The best part of the business is that they go into local school districts and partner with special needs children by having them gain skills while helping assemble the kits. What she is doing is simply amazing and has turned an interesting but stagnant business into a thriving enterprise!
When I first met Karen she said to me, “you’re a connector”. I never really thought of myself in that way, but I guess it’s a fair assessment. I love learning new things, discovering new opportunities, and sharing these ideas with people I meet in the field. I also love meeting new people and connecting them with other contacts when I think they would mutually benefit. I guess it’s a gift I’ve been given even though I never realized it, and it really made me think about the value of networking.
Networking is such a powerful tool. Whether you’re like me and connect naturally, or if you find networking exhausting, I’m here to tell you that you can do it! The best part of networking is that you’ll find people who share your passion or have similar goals and the conversation and synergy will flow naturally. The power of networking comes when we join efforts and work together to reach the same goal.
Here are four reasons why networking is important:
Find New Opportunities
Although there are plenty of benefits to networking, one of the top ones is opening up new opportunities. When you spend time meeting new people and listening to what they’re up to you’ll be surprised how much you learn - and how much you have in common. By spending time networking you’ll not only learn from other’s mistakes and pick up on current trends, but you may even stumble upon new opportunities in your career, you just never know what’s out there!
Open Up Resources
Another thing that surprised me as I began to be more intentional about networking is the amount of people that have available resources to help you out. When you show interest in someone’s life and business you will discover that they have resources to share. Most of the time people are more than willing to share knowledge, advice, and a little of their time to help you out, especially if you are willing to reciprocate!
Grow Your Support Network
By networking you are not only opening yourself up to support others with the resources and gifts that you have but creating a team of support for yourself. Since running a child care center myself I have developed a relationship with a network of directors. If I ever have any questions or need support I can easily call on them to help. These are people who my goals and passion for childcare, and they understand my world better than anyone else.
Once you grow your network it opens up room for multiplying your outcomes. When two people or businesses share resources, ideas, and even contact lists, this is when the magic of networking happens. Although it seems like more work in the short-term, It tends to require less effort on your part compared to the return in time-saving, valuable advice and resources. It’s all about working smarter not harder, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel!
Some Ideas To Boost Your Child Care Network:
- Join Local Parenting Groups in person or online
- Visit Your Local Library
- Take Extra-curricular classes
- Attend Lunch Programs
- Tap like-minded individuals at your Local Church
- Interact with childcare blogs and podcasts
- Call or visit directors of nearby centers
- Attend conferences in other states/provinces
Try one or two of these networking experiences - you’ll learn something new and make new friends too!
By combining efforts with someone else in our field you can actually cut down on the hours of work personally required for a project and help your business be more than the sum of its parts through the concept of synergy. But remember, it’s better to give than to receive! In networking, you’ll find that people are much more willing to help you if you have something to share with them. It’s not that people aren’t happy to share resources and ideas, but if the relationship is one-sided people will feel like they’re being taken advantage of and your relationship won’t last.
I challenge you to find a new contact today to discuss childcare, share resources, renew your passion for early childhood education, and see how powerful networking can be!