[featured-image size=”featured” single_newwindow=”false”]image credit: Jess Samuels[/featured-image]I'm a dad. Wow. I need to repeat that. I'm a dad.
This is all still so new for me. My son, Grant Graeson Samuels, was born on Tuesday, December 15 at 9:11pm and instantly I became a member of a special club. I'm a parent now.
I started to become aware of this extensive and abundant community when my wife and I began to share the great news that she was pregnant. Instantly there was rapport between me and anyone else who has children.
For example, I was asked recently to give a reference for a former intern. I emailed the hiring manager to schedule a call, with the caveat that I might not be available if my wife went into labor. I was able to keep the appointment and the first 10-15 minutes we chatted about pregnancy and parenting. Instant rapport.
One year ago, even six months ago, I didn't know anyone with a newborn or even a child under 2 years old. Three months ago I started to be introduced via Facebook and text to friends of friends who had little ones. My wife and I went to an event for LGBT parents and an event to meet prospective doulas. Wherever we went we would meet new and expecting parents.
I knew these fleeting introductions weren't going to be enough to build relationships, to build a community, and I was having a hard time keeping track of all these new connections.
So I did what I'm known to do – I created community.
Two months ago I created a Facebook group for new and expecting parents in Boston. The focus is the cohort of children born between August 2015 and February 2016 (right before and after our son), but all ages are welcome. Over 100 people have joined the group to find support, share resources, and eventually to coordinate playdates.
This is where it became even more apparent that parents are an amazingly supportive community, willing to share everything they know to help others following in their footsteps.
Abundance in Action
Over the last several months friends of friends (and even virtual strangers) who are parents have reached out to support us – with gifts of clothes, bottles, diapers, pacifiers, and lots of advice. My wife and I are incredibly grateful for this outpour of support. We're already setting aside clothes and baby gear to pass to expecting parents in the Facebook group.
As a new dad I'm particularly excited to meet other dads. I started attending theBoston Dads Meetup Group a few months ago (the first expectant dad to do so). The lead organizer has a business training people to present their TED-like talks. That felt quite serendipitous as I'm a professional speaker who hopes to do a TEDx next year.
I will be my son's primary caretaker once my wife goes back to work. I'm also a professional speaker who has spent the last year focused on building my business – blogging weekly, working towards launching a podcast, and building relationships that may lead to new speaking engagements.
Figuring out how to keep focusing on my business when I'm caring for my son will be a balancing act. I'm thrilled to have this opportunity and couldn't have imagined it even a couple of years ago, when I was working 50 hours a week in an office. Leaving my career a year ago made it possible to be home with my son while following my passion.
Networking as a Parent
The line between my professional network and parent community is blurring quickly. Networking is not something only done at “networking events.” Networking also happens at Dad Meetups, parent Facebook groups, LGBT parent events, and I suspect will continue to happen at playgrounds, playgroups, and when I meet Grant's classmates' parents.
Thank you to all who have already supported us as a new family. We are thrilled to join this amazing community and take on the awesome challenge of being parents.
In the comments
Share what you find challenging about networking. Maybe your question will end up as the topic of a future blog post!
Robbie Samuels has been recognized as a networking expert by Inc. and Lifehacker, and profiled in “Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It” by Dorie Clark. Check out “On the Schmooze” his new podcast.
Want to bring Robbie to your organization? Learn more about his sessions and keynotes at www.RobbieSamuels.com.