out to lunchDear Mardie, I’ve read the section on networking and there is a lot of good information there. But what does it really look like?  I mean, I can’t stand on the street corner and hand out my profile.  Or should I?

Great question! And no, don’t stand on the street corner with your profile.

Networking is about figuring out who you know and talking to them about your plans, and figuring out who they know that may help you too.  Let’s use an example, say Bill and Sarah…

Sarah has a girlfriend, Hillary, who works as a cashier at a small neighborhood pharmacy.  They go out to lunch one day and Sarah explains to Hillary their adoption plans and how in many adoptions, the connection with a birth mother comes from friends of friends or similar aquiantances.

“I’m just a cashier,” Hillary says. “I don’t know the doctors or nurses.”

They talk a little more about who Hillary might know from work that may be a valuable connection.

“I do chat with Faith, who is the receptionist at the OB’s office. They always send their patients to us to get their prenatal vitamins because we carry the brand the doctor likes.”  BINGO! A connection is made.

“Do you think you could mention to Faith that your friends are adopting and maybe offer to drop by one of our profiles? Or I’m happy to drop it off – it would just help if you could make the introduction next time you talk with her,” Sarah asked.

“Of course!  Faith has a little girl so she would probably be excited. Oh, and I know a woman at church who works in a group home for teen girls. I wonder if any of them are ever pregnant?  I could ask her,” Hillary shared.  “I could definitely give her a profile, and even my pastor when I see him this Sunday, although maybe his secretary would be a better option.”

And so it goes.  Just talking with the people you know about your plans, who they might know, and how adoption works.  Sometimes, you may get into a conversation that is more like Bill had with Jim, one of his high school friends he still plays city league softball with…

“Hey Jim, so Sarah and I are trying to adopt and  hope to do some networking with people that may know someone who is pregnant and considering adoption.  You probably don’t have many pregnant women wander in your body shop I’m guessing?  Sarah just wanted me to mention it to my friends in case anyone has any connections.”

Jim chuckles, “Nope, can’t help you much there.  Most women have their men bring the cars in. Sorry I can’t help.”

Because Bill has been well prepared by Sarah, he knows exactly what to say.  “I get it.  Can we email you some info or share on Facebook? I know your wife has a lot of friends on Facebook – maybe if she could just share it, others would share it, and we might get some traction. I don’t know if Sarah is friends with her though.”

“Julie would TOTALLY love to do that!  I will tell her about it and she will find you and Sarah on Facebook. That’s a great idea Bill – we could totally help you like that. In fact, Julie has friends and family out of state, would that still work?”  Jim’s getting a little excited now about helping his friend.

“Yes,” Bill says.  “Any state works great.”

Again, it’s just making a connection and giving people the opportunity and ability to help.  You will find most people you know are eager to help, they just need to be told or shown how.