It all started with a dream. I wanted to have six children and prayed for a set of twins. When I became pregnant with our first child, I was elated. I wish I could say the same for when we started our business. I had many emotions but elation was not one of them. What I did have, however, was a dream to be a stay-at-home mom and raise my children. Thus, we decided to build a home-based business.

My husband and I started our networking business the same year our first child was born. As the years have gone by and our family and organization has grown, I cannot help but see the correlation between raising a family and building a successful networking business. Here are just a few commonalities:

Accept, Approve, Appreciate

As a new mom, I had much to learn. I had a beautiful baby with many needs, and I wasn’t sure if I could be the mom he needed. I had to learn what each cry meant, when to call the doctor, how to put him in a car seat and get the car seat buckled safely into the car. I had to figure out how to drive and keep an eye on him while he was facing backwards—in the backseat!

There was so much to learn, it was a bit overwhelming. But the one thing my son needed most was unconditional love. That I could give him.

Building a networking business was similar. There was much to learn and at times I felt overwhelmed.

First, there was the “science” side: the technical parts, the how-to’s of the business. Then there was the “art” side: working with people. Each person was different and came with his or her own dreams and challenges. Learning about the different personalities helped tremendously.

Just as with my son, the best thing I could give my team was unconditional love, which I sought to provide by meeting people where they were in life and helping them see who and where they could be.

In his book How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People, Les Giblin teaches the principle of “accept, approve and appreciate.” This is a powerful principle every parent and leader would do well to master. Accept people for who they are, approve or point out the positive things to encourage them, and appreciate them by placing value on who they are. 

Allow for Learning

As my children became toddlers, it was difficult to not do everything for them. It’s hard to see your child fall down or try something new and fail. But this is what makes children grow and develop into the men and women they are called to be.

Before having four children in five years and building a large networking business, I wanted to control everything. However, if I continued to do everything for them, they would never learn to take responsibility and do things on their own. I would be teaching them acquired helplessness.

I didn’t want my children to grow into helpless creatures. I wanted them to take responsibility and do things on their own while learning from their mistakes along the way. We must help our children fall in love with learning. Failing at something doesn’t make them failures. On the contrary, it enriches them with a learning experience. 

The same applies for the folks on our team. People grow at different rates, and I had to learn to be okay with that. I had to learn to encourage them to get out of their comfort zones. I had to let them fall and help them get back up without taking over and rescuing them, teaching them to take responsibility for themselves, their actions and results.

Sometimes I want people to succeed more than they do. Once again, I have to allow them to learn and grow at their own pace. My role is to provide a safe environment so they can take an honest look at themselves and decide where they want to be in life. I also need to help them see who they can become and give them the best tools and guidance that will help them grow.

Celebrate Victories

As children grow, they experience many changes. We love them through the challenges and celebrate the milestones, teaching them that it is not what happens to you but how you handle it that matters.

It is amazing to watch children go from helpless beings to confident adults. Their capacity for learning and handling life’s circumstances just keeps expanding, allowing them to see a bigger picture and dream a bigger dream.

The same thing happens with the people on our teams. They experience many challenges and milestones, and we love them through each one. Most importantly, we celebrate each victory—no matter how small.

There are many more correlations between raising a family and building a successful networking team. Teaching the importance of developing a dream and staying focused on that dream, to take and accept responsibility, to fall in love with learning, to maintain a positive attitude through challenges, and to recognize victories are five basic building blocks that lay a solid foundation for a happy family—and for a thriving business.

Leadership in networking is like leadership at home: it requires love, patience and discipline to bring out each community member’s personal best.

LAURIE WOODWARD, wife of bestselling author
Orrin Woodward, has taught success principles to
large audiences all over the world. An avid reader
and lifelong student, she pursues excellence in
business leadership and relationships as
well as in home schooling her four children.
www.networkingtimes.com/link/revolution