1 Simple Change That Made Holiday Networking Events Way Less Awkward
Fact: I’ve never met anyone who thinks December is stress-free. But for working parents, the holiday season can feel extra stressful.
You’re working hard to finish strong in Q4, and at the same time, there are a million extra obligations--multiple parties: work, family, and friends; holiday baking; and don’t even get me started on the holiday card photos and address updates that needed to happen three months prior.
Then, there’s the serious pressure of not forgetting to move the elf each day!
There is, however, one holiday event that trumps all, in my humble opinion.
The preschool holiday party.
I am often one of the few working moms in the room. I don’t see the other parents on a daily basis, my volunteer hours meet the minimum requirement, and my nanny attends the afternoon playdates, because I am working.
So, it’s easy to feel like the odd person out. I don't know what’s going on in the other mom’s lives, I'm out of the loop in conversations on the latest news, and I may not even know the names of the other parents or who their kid is.
I used to tell myself I had valid reasons not to attend such as:
I’m an introvert.
I RSVP’d “no” to the last three events (mom’s tea and parents’ coffee date both held at a 10 AM on a Tuesday; mom’s night out...on a Monday night!).
It all adds up to dreading the awkward moment when someone says: “OMG we never see you!”; “It’s been so long!”; “You must work so much!”; “You just have the best nanny I’m surprised no one has stolen her yet!”
Cue the working parent guilt.
However, my most recent school holiday experience provided a much-needed change of perspective which leads me to my Holiday Party Prescription for handling those awkward moments like a #momboss or #biotechboss.
This time, I did something different. I looked the other mom straight in the eyes and said: “Yeah, you know, I really love what I do and I’m so blessed to have a nanny that loves my daughter as her own. I couldn’t ask for anything more!”
Her response: “Really? So, what do you do?”
Mine: “I run a biotech recruiting and career strategy company.”
Hers: “I used to work in marketing for a company in New Jersey.”
Me: “One of my clients is in Bridgewater, NJ.”
Her: “I am from Bridgewater, NJ...You know next year my last kid will be going to school full time and I am thinking about going back to work.”
Me: “Really? What would you like to do?”
Her: “I’d love to go back into the Pharma world.”
Me: “Have you ever considered recruiting?” (Spoken like a true--well--Recruiter).
In fact, several of my conversations that night opened up to conversations about wanting to get back into the workforce, and others' desires and dreams for themselves. It was really incredible what being open, being confident, and remaining positive could do…It can create a connection that you never thought was possible and it can actually end up working in your favor!