When speaking of your nursing career, networking may seem like an overused term, but the importance of networking has never been greater for healthcare professionals’ career growth and mastery.
Networking is part of any prudent job-search strategy, but it’s as important to continue networking while employed than it is when unemployed.
Networking can help you manifest your next position, meet like-minded professionals, and perhaps make some friends along the way.
There are varying reports on what percentage of jobs are found through connections rather than job postings, with most stating anywhere between 40 to 75 per cent of positions found through networking rather than other routes.
Whatever the numbers are, it makes sense to have a solid collection of connections that you can lean on when you need it most.
Remember that no matter how happy you may be in any particular position, things can change in a heartbeat in this highly competitive world. And if you lose your job and need another one fast, your contacts may help you get a foot in the door of a new employer much more quickly.
Why else should you network? A robust network of professional contacts can help you line up references when you need them for a job application or other endeavour, like applying to graduate school.
You might tap your network for savvy people to read and respond to the first draft of your thesis or dissertation.
It’s common to ask your network for support around a job search, a move, or perhaps a big career decision. You can even ask your network for warm introductions to people you’d like to meet, or even for service providers, you need to connect with (e.g.: resume writer, career coach, editor, etc).
A Powerful Brain Trust
Your network of colleagues and peers is like a very powerful brain trust that you can tap at any time. And when someone is in your network, you’re also in their’s – being a giver who supports others without expectations of reciprocity is a powerful reputation to develop.
A good networker does as much (or more) for others as others do for them.
If you had the opportunity to create your very own brain trust in the interest of your career, wouldn’t you do it?
You actually have that opportunity, so what are you waiting for?
Networking Strategy #1: Learn to be a LinkedIn Super-User
LinkedIn is the top career website in the world.
While most people see it as social media, those who truly understand say it’s actually a powerful search engine disguised as social media.
People use LinkedIn to see and be seen and to build their personal brand. The site boasts a user base of approximately 500 million, with 50-75 per cent of members actively using the platform.
As a search engine, LinkedIn runs on keywords, and it’s recommended that you populate your profile with optimal keywords for your specific purpose.
Since many recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates, this is reason enough to be searchable on the platform. However, other people will want to find you too, and you will make some excellent professional connections as you dig deeper.
And since most potential employers are going to Google you anyway, why not give them something of quality to find?
Your LinkedIn profile is like a multifaceted electronic resume on steroids (and so much more), adding to the picture that a recruiter or hiring manager is getting from your resume and cover letter.
Follow Ausmed on LinkedIn for daily industry updates and discussions here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ausmed-conferences/
Networking Strategy #2: Attend Live and Online Events
Many nurses attend local, regional, national, and international events, including live seminars and conferences, as well as online opportunities.
While meeting people online can be efficient, in-person meetings hold much more potential.
Live events are great for meeting other nurses and healthcare professionals, exchanging information and experiences, and picking the brains of amazing people.
If you go to a conference or seminar, bring business cards (yes, everyone should have a simple business card for networking) and go out of your way to have meaningful conversations with the people you encounter.
Be curious, open-minded, and approachable – a smile, a friendly hello, and a welcoming demeanour will attract people to you.
Networking Strategy #3: Reach out Fearlessly
Remember that your networking doesn’t necessarily have to focus solely on nurses – you can network with other healthcare professionals, of course, but bear in mind that almost everyone knows someone who works in healthcare, and having a broad range of contacts can’t hurt.
Knowing a few accountants, lawyers, and yoga teachers can be helpful, and you never know what good may come of a relationship.
When you write or call someone to ask about connecting, the worst thing that can happen is they say no. It’s almost certain that you’ll be rejected – that’s par for the course – but don’t let rejection set you back.
A valuable connection may be just around the corner, so be fearless and kindly assertive in your outreach.
In the end, there’s nothing you can do wrong if you reach out with integrity, compassion, and authenticity – sensitive people will pick up on your sincerity and those who like what they see or hear will reach back.
Just Do It
Your career is built upon the foundation of your education, skills, knowledge, and expertise.
Moving your career forward may take more than just a strong resume and cover letter – you may need to lean on other people for the introductions and connections that will get you where you want to go.
Make networking a part of your career modus operandi – learn to be a powerful networker, build a robust network, and reap the rewards of your outreach for years to come.
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on many social media platforms---including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram---as well as at www.nursekeith.com and Digital Doorway.