By Sharon Muza, BS, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, LCE
Your birth or postpartum workshop has been completed and you are ready to dip your toe in your birth/postpartum community in order to make connections, find backups, locate clients and start to gain experience in this new venture. My doula colleagues in my community help me to stay focused, celebrate my achievements with me and lift me up when I am struggling. As you start out, exactly how do you find your professional colleagues and meet the people who can help you succeed? How do you make those connections? Here are a few easy steps
Social media groups
Find the Facebook groups, Instagram accounts and Twitter feeds of the local professionals in your area. Ask to join or follow those groups and accounts and introduce yourself online with a brief introduction and your contact info. When you have something to share, offer up resources and information. Ask questions while being respectful of others’ time and knowledge.
Become a member of your local birth organization(s)
Discover what birth organizations are available and thriving in your community. Join them! Go to their meetings, participate in their activities, connect with other members. Often each community has a large birth professional group or organization and then several offshoots or niche groups that are more specialized and focused. Participate in all that are applicable to you and your goals.
Find opportunities to volunteer and give of your time if you are able. Is there a special skill you have that could be utilized by a local birth/postpartum group. Are you a writer? A blogger? Is bookkeeping your strength? What about graphic design? What are the needs of the group and how can you contribute? Find out where you can be helpful. It might even be something as simple as baking for a bake sale fundraiser or stuffing envelopes for an upcoming mailing. There are many great ways to build relationships with colleagues.
Be a backup
Make yourself available for last minute backup needs of your colleagues. Put it out there to the community that you welcome last minute calls for backup. This is a great way to let your colleagues learn more about you and soon they will be referring to you when they are unable to serve a particular client.
Attend local continuing education opportunities
If there are any continuing education workshops, supplemental trainings, book/journal clubs or other educational opportunities, sign up and show up! More learning is always great, and if your budget is tight (many of us have financial concerns when starting a new career) consider a work-study position, or volunteering in exchange for registration. You make some great connections and expand your knowledge at the same time.
Completing your doula workshop is an exciting first step to new skills and a new career. Getting involved in your community is an important part of setting yourself up for success and collegial support both short and long-term. There are many ways to get involved, make connections and start to build relationships that will help you start off on the right foot. How have you made connections in your community as you begin your doula career? Do you have any additional suggestions to contribute that I may have missed? Please share them in the comments section below.