The Black Doubt

I was sent a great list of websites for working mothers, by Anne Williams (hypnotherapist – specialised in overcoming fear). As I started reviewing her list and adding the good ones to my site I was struck by an episode of The Black Doubt.

Somehow there seem to suddenly be loads of amazing sites and events for working mums. Each time I add one to my list of links on Mum & Career, my self confidence sinks a bit further. What if there are already enough good places to inspire and support working mums? What is my Unique Selling Point? Didn’t I actually start out to add something helpful for mums and if all areas have already been covered shouldn’t I just stop? Especially as no one will even find Mum & Career, as making sure the site is found by search engines is very hard work and if mums visit it they might not even find what they need. So why am I bothering in the first place?

It usually takes me a full day to recover, when first I tell myself that actually I probably do have a unique voice, as I am a unique person. Then I realise that most sites are made by one person, whereas Mum & Career is a community, a hub, bringing together all these great places and great people running them, so they will be much easier to find.

Only then do I start to realise there is no need for doubt, as it actually was my intention to make sure all these great places can be found. Mum & Career was only going to  add those things that aren’t covered by anyone else. Hence if there is this great site for mums out there, I should actually rejoice, be grateful to the founder, make a link and be happy for all mums out there they can now easily find this great resource too. After all, I didn’t start this to get rich or famous, I didn’t want to create it all myself, I just wanted to make life a little easier for other mums like me.

Amazing how black emotions like self doubt can make me forget my own intentions. I can also tell you I am not alone as Erica Douglas from  Become a Mumpreneur and Helen Lindop from Businessplusbaby blogged about it too – and I added them to my site as well. They also mention you should leave The Doubt in a box and not voice it as it doesn’t help you in any way. Other people like to think you know what you are doing. So just so you know: Mum & Career is making life easier for mums and covering this great need no one else was yet, of course.

If you are brave enough though, do tell me about your doubt…we are only human after all.

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Networking feast

I have been to countless women’s networking events over the past weeks, all following on from the very first one really. This was the place where someone recommended 5 other places to network. I have now been hit by ‘death by networking’:  I have actually so many follow-up meetings, follow-up actions and new ideas that I am done networking for the next four weeks! 

All this networking has indeed brought some new visitors to Mum & Career, but mostly it has helped me re-word and re-think what Mum&Career is all about and who it is for. Quite an astonishing number of people I have met, promised to write articles for the site or share their story. It seemed a bit awkward – asking for volunteers – but I now know that many entrepreneurial women are looking for ways to build their name and love to share with other women too.

The thing that most intrigued me in all this networking is how helpful women are, sharing what they know, and not really asking much in return. It’s great to find it’s okay you don’t know something, as people seem just happy to help. Many kindly offer an hour of their time for a follow-up meeting or to help, even if it isn’t obvious what the result might be. Also there is a lot of focus on drawing you in, so I didnt’ have any ‘oh, my god, which person could I walk up to now’ moments. Fellow-networkers seemed interested and would ask me what it is I do and need, and ask follow-up questions. Therefor it seemed natural to talk about myself, even if my ‘1 minute’ start hadn’t gone very flashing. Women really do network differently than men, and I was astonished to find it works so much better for me.  

And, I almost forgot to mention it. It was liberating to find that mentioning you have a child and enjoy wrapping your working hours around his needs is respected and even admired. It feels like a relief to bring all of me to the table: ‘Sorry cannot do at three, that’s the school run’. 

If you want to know where I went, just visit the networking page, as I went to most of them. All are good but they have a slightly different flavour. I could tell you what that is, but I believe the best way is to try a few and see which ones work for you and your business.

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My fabulous, glamorous blog-personality

So what do I do if I didn’t have such a good week? Can I write about that? Surely I want to portray to everyone Mum & Career is doing fabulous and the launch is succeeding, right?

I could of course ramble on about something else, or just make something up. This is when I realised many people probably do. They glamourise and edit their on-line selves. I know, I know people photo-shop their faces, or post ideal ages and careers on dating-sites. But imagine could fake so much more. Parties you go to, just so you look hot on Facebook or fake blog-entries pretending you are funny and successfull.

But lets get to the point, I will own up to it: I didn’t have a great week. I was a bit ready with Mum & Career and staring at the screen altogether. So first I spent a day not achieving anything. Than I gave myself a day off. Considering I have so little days in a week, with dogs and child to care for too, that sort of adds up to half a week off, really.

I went to gossip, chat, drink coffee and hang about. And my word was it ever enjoyable. And guess what, eventually I did hand out some business cards after all. I also learned that some heartfelt ‘Ah, I don’t know how to do this!’ can really work. Several mums and neigbours came up with brilliant ideas and advice. The best one being: ‘why does your newsletter have to be weekly anyway?’ – Ha, indeed! Doing it monthly will save me three quarters of the work and have much more interesting content. What a successfull day that was after all.

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Stepping out of my cave

This was an amazing week. You have to know that for months I have focussed on the content and technology of Mum & Career, mostly on my own, glued to my screen, battling with the basics of HTML and WordPress. Now, suddenly I have to get out in the open and tell people about it. It feels unnatural. I feel like a hermit, stepping out of my cave, blinking my eyes against the bright light outside. Ah, … other people, scary!

However it has all turned out to be fabulous. I somehow found the courage and coolly contacted one of the founders of a local website I had read about and suggested we’d meet. It was a wonderful meeting, we both enjoyed sharing how we had started, shared some insights, and agreed to do some things together. We will write something for each other’s sites, and organise a coffee morning on ‘Going back to work’. I can certainly recommend you go and check out their site, For Sanity’s Sake – a friendly, heart-warming site for mums of babies and pre-schoolers in Twickenham. It offers a weekly agenda of what to do with your little one, and just lots of useful stuff. And, just in case you are not in Twickenham, they are also looking for volunteer interested in rolling out the same concept in their own area!

Next I went to a networking event, which a friend recommended: Cappuccino connections by the Athena Network. Before I went I checked out some of the ‘most useful networking’ -tips I had read recently – easy to find as by way of market research for my site I have signed up to a number of Newsletters for working mums – and learned it would be good to go armed with a specific question. Then I tried to relax and..went.

It was amazing. There were about 20 ladies there, ranging in age and background, and about half of them were mums. All of them, though, were wonderfully interested, supportive and enthusiastic. After an hour and a half I came away buzzing with ideas and excitement, and… a number of e-mail addresses of women who had agreed to write something for me too!

I have never, ever been to a networking event that has been such a pleasure, and has given me so much to follow up on. This is more fun than parties! Not sure if it’s women, Athena…or perhaps just me being able to engage with people about my favourite topic: women at work.

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My first blog

This really is my first blog. Me, writing about me. Each time I tell people about my new, fabulous (ahem…well, someone’s got to believe in me) site, and they have had a look, they ask me why I am not blogging myself.

So here I am, giving it a try. I imagine my blogs could chronicle my journey. Starting at the launch of my site 2 weeks ago. This is when I invited 20 mummy-friends to come and have a look. Now I am gathering their feed-back. This was initially rather scary as no one seemed to respond. Now, 2 weeks later, it is mostly giving me hope. Everyone tells me it looks very professional and contains lots of interesting stuff. Mostly people seems positively surprised at the quality and amount of content on offer. Actually some feed-back is even better than that, as some people spark new ideas, leave a comment or send me a good article, which is amazingly helpful.

Next step is to start inviting more people! This may sound easy, but my actions are slightly delayed by doubts on the content and functionality. Can I really launch without a good newsletter? And what about more social interaction opportunities? I even went to a workshop on Social Marketing Strategy to find out whether I need to be on Linked-In, Twitter and Facebook before I launch. All these doubts…

My firmer self, however, has consulted with my inner self. The message is clear: it’s time to step out of my convent and go out into the world. If I continue into content and functionality I will forget how to interact with people! It’s good enough for now, and I can take it step by step. Adding good bits as I go. Scary…but, here I go!

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