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BY Georgene Huang and Tina Pettigrew

The Surprising Reasons Pregnancy Can Be the Best Time to Network

Pregnant Woman Networking

Photo credit: Ellevate Networking

TAGS: Networking, Career goals, Pregnancy, Working moms, Mommy-tracked, Career advice

Many of us know that networking is incredibly important to our career success. When we’re students, networking means making the best of our relationships with professors, peers and alums. Networking can help us land a coveted internship or even our first job. Fast forward a few years, and networking becomes more critical and multi-faceted because career and life events become more complex.

The research shows that your next opportunity is more likely to come from a loose connection, so the more people you know the more likely it is that you will be on their mind when an opportunity arises, and the more likely it is that they’ll be willing to help you when you need it.

Pregnancy, in particular, is one time when women have a great deal of advice and information to share with each other. First-time mothers can find the workplace to be especially isolating. As professionals, we are often instinctively guarded about our personal lives in the office. During the early months, many women keep their news secretive but start doing research about all the changes to come in their lives. Among other things, newly pregnant women worry about morning sickness, maternity leave, future work-life balance, being judged or stigmatized (i.e. being “mommy tracked”) or losing all the momentum they’ve built in their careers, to date.

We believe better information can make this period less stressful. To that end, Fairygodboss recently launched a crowdsourced database of maternity leave policies, and provides practical data and checklists to consider while preparing for your leave (and return). New relationships also play an important role in reducing stress during this time. In fact, we believe life transitions are some of the best times to connect with other professional women. After all, networking is about finding support, and we believe that fellow working moms can be a great source of emotional help and inspiration.

We all know that networking is so important, but how do we use it to our advantage authentically in a way that yields real benefits? The important things to keep in mind are a) your network evolves over time; b) the more diverse your network, the more likely an opportunity will pop up for you; and c) doing favors for other people and connecting with them about real things (including your transition to motherhood, back to work, etc.) is how you build a strong network that lasts and evolves. Don’t be afraid to ask other women questions, share your experience and be honest. It will pay off.

We’ve heard from hundreds of working women who told us they desperately needed information and support from others during this turning point in their lives. If a woman is lucky, she will have sympathetic, trusted colleagues at work in whom she can confide. For example, if your company’s maternity or short-term disability policies are obscure or difficult to understand, other working parents will often share what they know. They may also give you “unofficial”information regarding the ability to negotiate your leave, or help you navigate a more flexible work schedule. Others may help allay concerns that you may be perceived to be a less-committed professional. The women who’ve been through your experience will understand who is the friendliest ally in Human Resources, or which departments may be better options for a transfer if your current role seems incompatible with motherhood.

Even working moms outside your company and friends can be hugely important sources of information and support. Women in the Fairygodboss community can help you understand what life is like for them at another company or industry in case you decide —like so many other women —that motherhood is a good time to make a career change. This is where Ellevate’s networking events can help, too. Networking while pregnant may not be easy, but it is certainly an ice-breaker in a conversation when you’re in a room full of other women!

You’ll find that the more you’re open to telling people about yourself and your experience, the more likely they are to open up. Simply making a connection about pregnancy, work, hobbies and everyday things actually makes building your network pretty simple—just don’t forget names (and always have your card)! Having the opportunity to network with women whom you can connect with on one level but have diverse experiences and backgrounds on other levels is priceless.

Professional networking is important at every stage of a career. However, certain life events can be a focal point for seeking out community. The connections you make with other women during pregnancy and maternity leave can be some of the most authentic and fulfilling relationships you build in your professional life.

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women.
Join us by reviewing your employer!
 

Related Community Discussions

  • I recently got engaged, will be married October 2017. My fiance and I want to start a family right away. My job does not have paid maternity leave. Would it be premature for me to advocate for paid leave? My initial thought process was to figure this out as soon as possible. Maybe I should start looking for another job; researching other companies I noticed that most (all the one's that I saw) require employees to have been employed for a year before being offered paid maternity leave.

    If I could have my way I would stay where I am at and get paid leave.

    I have a positive relationship with my boss and can talk about this with him, however; he isn't the one who ultimately makes this decision, corporate does.

  • My company recently put in a nursing room/mother's room but it was designed in a way that the majority of the room is fogged glass - except one strip that runs right at sitting level that was left as transparent glass. I don't think it was done intentionally (men designed the room) but I now have to put up sheets of paper to cover the transparent strip of glass. Any idea on how to address this with my (all male) management team?

  • I recently had a child and worked out an arrangement with my manager to work from home 1-2 days/week. I'm the only female on my team and none of the co-workers have a similar arrangement. There have been discreet comments made about my schedule (mostly in a joking way) but it still feels uncomfortable. Has anyone else ran into this?

  • I need some advice. I recently took maternity leave, which ended up turning in to Temporary Disability Leave because of some medical complications I had after the baby was delivered. I returned back to work after being off for 24 weeks. I have returned to the same job and have tried to get back into the swing of corporate life + new baby (first time mom here) and have the opportunity to take an additional 4 weeks off paid by the state, but it needs to be taken and completed before my child turns 12 months old and that's fast approaching.

    I submitted a request to HR to take temporary leave of absence and my HR department is denying me the ability to take this leave, stating that I exhausted the 13 weeks FMLA that the company offers (has to offer) to all employees. They are saying that I don't qualify for this leave until a full 12 months after my initial leave started. Everything I have read online and everyone I have talked to say that FMLA and TCI leave are completely different and separate. Technically, I think I am allowed to take this leave, the State says I qualify for it, but it's now in my employers hands and I am afraid if they deny me, and I choose to still take the leave, that I will not have job security. The brochure talking about TCI doesn't say anything about FMLA being the deciding factor "http://www.dlt.ri.gov/tdi/pdf/TCIBrochure.pdf."

    Does anyone know what my rights are? Can I legally take the 4 weeks off, and still have a job to return back to? Given that I had to take so much time off, do I still qualify for job protection and benefits?

    Thank you for any an all help.

  • I am currently 36 weeks pregnant and gearing up to go on maternity leave at the end of the month. I recently came across a new job oppurnity that would be better for my family. I'm at the finishing stages of interviewing with this new company and I am worried that I will find out I got the job while on maternity leave. My question is, what happens to my maternity benefits and how do I go about leaving my current job without issue?

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The Surprising Reasons Pregnancy Can Be the Best Time to Network

The Surprising Reasons Pregnancy Can Be the Best Time to Network

Many of us know that networking is incredibly important to our career success. When we’re students, networking means making the best of our relation...

Many of us know that networking is incredibly important to our career success. When we’re students, networking means making the best of our relationships with professors, peers and alums. Networking can help us land a coveted internship or even our first job. Fast forward a few years, and networking becomes more critical and multi-faceted because career and life events become more complex.

The research shows that your next opportunity is more likely to come from a loose connection, so the more people you know the more likely it is that you will be on their mind when an opportunity arises, and the more likely it is that they’ll be willing to help you when you need it.

Pregnancy, in particular, is one time when women have a great deal of advice and information to share with each other. First-time mothers can find the workplace to be especially isolating. As professionals, we are often instinctively guarded about our personal lives in the office. During the early months, many women keep their news secretive but start doing research about all the changes to come in their lives. Among other things, newly pregnant women worry about morning sickness, maternity leave, future work-life balance, being judged or stigmatized (i.e. being “mommy tracked”) or losing all the momentum they’ve built in their careers, to date.

We believe better information can make this period less stressful. To that end, Fairygodboss recently launched a crowdsourced database of maternity leave policies, and provides practical data and checklists to consider while preparing for your leave (and return). New relationships also play an important role in reducing stress during this time. In fact, we believe life transitions are some of the best times to connect with other professional women. After all, networking is about finding support, and we believe that fellow working moms can be a great source of emotional help and inspiration.

We all know that networking is so important, but how do we use it to our advantage authentically in a way that yields real benefits? The important things to keep in mind are a) your network evolves over time; b) the more diverse your network, the more likely an opportunity will pop up for you; and c) doing favors for other people and connecting with them about real things (including your transition to motherhood, back to work, etc.) is how you build a strong network that lasts and evolves. Don’t be afraid to ask other women questions, share your experience and be honest. It will pay off.

We’ve heard from hundreds of working women who told us they desperately needed information and support from others during this turning point in their lives. If a woman is lucky, she will have sympathetic, trusted colleagues at work in whom she can confide. For example, if your company’s maternity or short-term disability policies are obscure or difficult to understand, other working parents will often share what they know. They may also give you “unofficial”information regarding the ability to negotiate your leave, or help you navigate a more flexible work schedule. Others may help allay concerns that you may be perceived to be a less-committed professional. The women who’ve been through your experience will understand who is the friendliest ally in Human Resources, or which departments may be better options for a transfer if your current role seems incompatible with motherhood.

Even working moms outside your company and friends can be hugely important sources of information and support. Women in the Fairygodboss community can help you understand what life is like for them at another company or industry in case you decide —like so many other women —that motherhood is a good time to make a career change. This is where Ellevate’s networking events can help, too. Networking while pregnant may not be easy, but it is certainly an ice-breaker in a conversation when you’re in a room full of other women!

You’ll find that the more you’re open to telling people about yourself and your experience, the more likely they are to open up. Simply making a connection about pregnancy, work, hobbies and everyday things actually makes building your network pretty simple—just don’t forget names (and always have your card)! Having the opportunity to network with women whom you can connect with on one level but have diverse experiences and backgrounds on other levels is priceless.

Professional networking is important at every stage of a career. However, certain life events can be a focal point for seeking out community. The connections you make with other women during pregnancy and maternity leave can be some of the most authentic and fulfilling relationships you build in your professional life.

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women.
Join us by reviewing your employer!
 

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