Maternity leave is many things—confusing, wonderful, exhausting, educational, lonely, all-encompassing. It’s also one of the rare times in life you’re often totally in your own head, thinking. As you walk your neighbourhood streets trying to get your baby to sleep, you might start to think about your future. During early morning feeds, you might read about a new business on Instagram and wish it was your idea.
The time away from work gives you a rare opportunity to think about what’s important to you and your family. Regardless of how happy or unhappy you are in your career, there’s one thing you should do. Stay connected and keep your toes in the water.
Working in media for nearly 20 years meant Mia met and interviewed thousands of people, getting their stories. Early in her career, she also scored advice: “Don’t be an arsehole.” She took that on as a mini-mantra because, says Mia, “While many in journalism still believe it’s 1980, the rest of the world has moved on, so I’ve always tried to keep my ‘brand’ strong in the media and corporate marketplace.”
Mia’s reputation and trusted contact network came into play during her second pregnancy. She’d left a role and knew she’d need a new communications job after the birth, “So I started networking when I was six months pregnant,” she says. “I started contacting people at the top of the chain nationally.” One cup of tea led to the next, and the next, says Mia. Her strategy was simple and smart: “I never asked for more than 30 minutes of their time, and always met them underneath their building, so it was harder to say no.”
Mia always used email as her first point of contact, then Google and LinkedIn to do her research about who she wanted to meet. “Often our mutual connection emailed their colleague as an introduction to get the ball rolling,” she says, “so it wasn’t a cold call.” Mia experienced first-hand the importance of using social media to get on people’s radar for the future.
Like all first dates, you come across people who aren’t right for you, but the vast majority of people I met were brilliant and insightful,” she says. “I also had a wonderful people and culture mentor who guided me on what questions to ask on coffee catch-ups.”
The strategy—email, coffee, asking the right questions—led Mia to land her new job. Recently returned, she is loving her new career direction, organisation and life as a working mum. It takes courage and strength to face into your career and admit that you need a new direction. Regardless of where you’re at, staying connected is important and we have great resources available to help you navigate the world of LinkedIn.
Mia works in Communications and is a mum to two beautiful children (3 and 1)