As each year goes by I think I get better at accepting all the networking that has to go on as part of a startup life. Networking is a critical part of running a startup but sometimes it can feel like Stef is always out at a party or a pub having all the fun while I'm stuck at home.
Over the years of doing my own startup things I know just how important networking is. Sometimes it can feel like you're going to plenty of networking events but nothing is happening, and then suddenly, often when you least expect it, a connection you made will lead to something interesting and exciting. You get that 'slotting into place' feeling or that 'it's who you know' feeling. The connections you make at an event may lead to other connections, and who knows where those will take you.
Even though I know how important it is I still sometimes want to stamp my feet and shout "not again, please come home to me instead of going to the party!" I don't really mind midweek networking events. I hate Friday night ones. I get all excited that it's the weekend and then realise I'm all on my own once the children are in bed.
And then there are the events that involve getting all dressed up and going somewhere fancy with cocktails, champagne and networking with far too many pretty women for my liking! Yes sometimes all this networking makes me feel like a frumpy, lumpy, boring housewife and those smart, attractive women make me feel all insecure and rubbish. Fortunately I don't feel like that very often these days. Perhaps I'm becoming a pro at this startup wife malarky!?
Seriously though networking can be a tricky thing to balance with having a relationship and family life. Early on in our relationship going on a date to yet another gallery show opening or some creative something or other drinks wasn't always that romantic! And then a few years later being left on my own with the little ones while Stef's travelled around the world for conferences and exchanges has been hard.
But what I do know is that startups have been formed from all this networking. I also know that networking is so valuable not just for beginning startups but also for growing them. It's not always easy to remember this when it's sometimes hidden beneath fancy parties, amazing meals or conferences in exciting places. It's certainly not easy to remember when my husband comes home at 2am and wakes up on a Saturday morning with a stinking hangover! Fortunately this kind of networking doesn't happen so often now. We have four little children who make drinking into the early hours not so attractive!
As each year of our startup adventure goes by I definitely get better at accepting that networking isn't just an excuse to go out an have fun on a Friday evening but an important part of growing a startup. And, I've also got a lot better at planning my Friday evenings, so that I have something lovely to do and don't just mope the night away feeling like a startup widow!