When I was starting out my doula and childbirth education business, I tried to make sure I made all the right connections and studied all the right things to gain the right expertise. The regular business connections were essential like an accountant, a lawyer, and a website designer. I took my doula and childbirth educator training very seriously too (like the real geek that I am) and read all the books before I even went to the in-person trainings. I did my homework and tried to be the best childbirth professional I could be. As I have continued growing in my practice, there have also been some unexpectedly helpful connections and expertise that have really been helpful in multiple situations.
As a childbirth professional, there are some things that people just expect you to be knowledgeable about and local connections that you may need to be able to refer clients to for certain reasons. I had children before I became a doula, so some of the baby gear stuff was fresh in my mind at the time. Is it just me, or do you feel like the list of needed and trusted baby gear keeps changing? In case this question has you wondering, here are the best-selling baby items on Amazon right now.
In addition to online sales, I have found it extremely helpful to know a local brick and mortar business or two to be able to send people to actually touch things and ask questions about the products. I do really like to #supportlocal as much as possible, and sending clients there is a pretty big vote of confidence too. I’ve even partnered with some local vendors on giveaways and promotions for their business, and this has been sooo very valuable for local networking.
Other networking that I have found helpful for local resources has been for complimentary healthcare practitioners such as chiropractic practitioners, massage therapist, cranio-sacral therapist, dentists who help with laser lip and tongue tie repairs, and lactation consultants. Photographers to recommend are always nice too, and not just birth photographers, but newborn specialists too. All of these are normal and typically expected connections for childbirth professionals to have.
These next three connections have been a bit less expected, but VERY helpful to have for when the need for their expertise arises.
The first is my friend who is an esthetician. Sometimes my clients want to trim or remove hair before their upcoming birth or to get their make-up done professionally before their maternity or newborn photoshoot. I have a few different estheticians that I can send them to in town depending on their needs and style, and I was not expecting to need that kind of recommendation for my clients.
Have you ever been at a hospital birth and you absolutely cannot figure out how to help get someone’s jewelry off? Knowing a local piercer can be extremely helpful when this happens, especially for piercing jewelry that you might not be familiar with personally. I sent the above picture to my friend the piercer and she texted me back instructions for how to get this out of my client’s ear. My client had never taken it out and had forgotten how to, and my friend the piercer told me exactly how to get it out very easily without resorting to cutting it off or anything else drastic. I also always ask for something to put removed jewelry in, and at the hospital this always seems to end up being a urine specimen cup or hazardous waste baggie.
Finally, I love to have referrals for my clients from people who do personal design and organization. These are also the people you as a new parent don’t expect to need, and it can be VERY helpful to have contact information for those businesses for clients. These are the amazing people who will come help you sort out your clothes and organize all the things postpartum. Can we take a moment to appreciate that there are people who actually enjoy doing those things? I surely do not! Whether you client needs nursery organization before baby, baby clothes sorting afterwards, or a weeding out of their own closet after their bodies change shape no matter what the scale says, knowing who to send them to for help is a great thing.
What has been the most helpful connection for you that you never would have guessed you would need in the beginning?
Further Reading about Networking:
Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi & Tahl Raz
Give and Take by Adam Grant
Networking Archives at Harvard Business Review
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