If the idea of chatting up a complete stranger in hopes of landing your next job gives you sweaty palms, dry mouth, and the jitters, you are not alone. Networking is difficult, even for the most sociable types of people. Think of networking events as a low-pressure way to make new connections and stay engaged in your industry.
Networking is also a great way to make personal connections and build relationships with other Nursing professionals so that you can share tips and advice, lean on each other for support, and converse.
Every healthcare specialty has its own professional organization. These organizations offer many training and conference events, which are excellent opportunities for networking. They’ll also help you stay current of the latest practice, regulation and technology developments that are relevant to your field.
When attending conferences use these tips.
- Wear your name tag on your left lapel so you don’t block your name when shaking hands. If you fill out the name tag yourself, print clearly so your name and title are visible from about 5 feet away. That way, others won’t need to squint at your chest to read your name.
- Keep your handshake firm and friendly. Don’t hang on, and don’t pump! Remember to make eye contact, and smile.
- Keep breath mints handy. Networking usually takes place around drinks and food, and the first thing that greets a new contact shouldn’t be the garlic and onion dip.
- Keep your business cards handy (a business card holder is best), but don’t throw them at everyone you meet. Hand your business card to a contact so it’s right side up and facing that person. When someone hands you a business card, take a moment to look at it; then say thank you and carefully put it away.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media sites, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, allow you to connect with industry and professional organizations, as well as individuals. This will keep you up to date on upcoming training and informational events in your area. LinkedIn is especially useful to reach out to potential mentors and experienced professionals who may provide future references.
USE EXISTING CONNECTIONS
It’s important to realize that your professional network isn’t just the people you know. It’s exponential beyond that; the people you know have connections, who have connections, and so on. Reach out to your existing colleagues in the medical world and ask for introductions to people they think you should know.
When it comes to networking in the Nursing field, it’s to be understood that it’s a two-way street. While it’s reasonable to look out for one’s own professional interests and aims, it’s also important to help someone in need. Whenever you receive a professional request, please consider it as if you need it for yourself. Try to remain open to whatever comes your way and be ready to provide a helping hand to others in need. This also applies to your social media accounts. Try to maintain a good response rate and interact with people whenever and wherever possible.
DON’T FORGET TO FOLLOW UP
Leaving at the end of a networking event can mean your mind is swirling with leads for future positions, ideas for your resume, and new mentors to reach out to in the coming days. Before you lose the momentum of the connections you’ve just made, remember to follow up. Send a quick note by email or LinkedIn to the people you’d like to stay in touch with.