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Networking in Nursing: Tips for Professional Development

The word ‘networking’ instantly prompts images of stiff business suits, bar graphs and terms like ‘profit maximization.’ However, it is not necessary for the networking scenarios to be limited to conference halls or offices with floor to ceiling windows. They can play out in a golf course, a nail salon, a café and even a hospital.

Networking is a necessity in every professional field in today’s world. Establishing beneficial relationships in the workplace can contribute to a successful career over time. These meaningful connections aren’t just fulfilling to the individual, but also contribute to the progress of the community.

The necessity of networking in the medical community too has been widely acknowledged. Studies conducted on the effects of networking in the medical community have agreed that it “opens doors and creates relationships that support new opportunities, personal development, collaborative research, policy activism, evidence-based practice”.

Tips for networking for nurses

While networking is very essential for any profession, getting started can be a little intimidating. So, here are some tips to simplify navigating that first meeting that can potentially set the foundations of a possibly lifelong friendship.

Source potential networking opportunities

Networking doesn’t mean you have to try to get to into some elite or exclusive clubs to make connections. You can meet other people from the healthcare industry just about anywhere. You can easily find opportunities in the workplace itself during clinical rotations. Reaching out to your professors, batchmates or alumni to make connections is also a great idea.

Other opportunities can present themselves through social media, workshops and webinars, professional organizations, networking events and even volunteer programs. You can also join online forms and discussions on topics you’re interested in to get in contact with people who have similar interests.

Secure your introduction

Your introduction plays an important role in creating lasting first impressions. So it is better to stay prepared beforehand and keep in mind what you want to share about your career and interests as an introduction. However, do keep in mind that this isn’t for a job interview so be sure to personalize it according to the setting of the interaction.

Engage with the conversation

Holding a meaningful conversation may seem difficult, especially with a stranger. But it is necessary to leave a lasting impression on them. The safest way to show genuine interest is to ask questions about them. You can also share your own experiences with them. Being authentic and opening up to people by sharing your own stories can help them remember you easily.

You can also appeal with your body language to appear more approachable.  Maintain eye contact, gesture with your hands and smile to have a positive bearing throughout the conversation.

Be a good listener

Being an active listener can help you contribute to the conversation. That way, you can ask follow up questions about their experiences and even offer suggestions if they open up to you about a problem.

Contact and follow up

Make sure you exchange contact information with them so you can get in touch with them later. Reach out to them from time to time, with personalized messages. You can ask them for career advice or just share something about yourself or just check in to let them know that you are genuinely interested in keeping the connection. If possible, try to meet up occasionally. This is very important in building meaningful relationships. Reaching out to them on socials is also a great idea.

Referrals

Don’t be shy in using referrals. When introductions happen through peers or known circles, they automatically become easier to remember. If someone knows people who can be beneficial for your career, don’t hesitate in asking to be introduced.

Why is networking important for nurses?

Building connections can be beneficial, especially within the medical community.

  • Information exchange: Networking connections are mostly made to exchange information and for nurses it could be a valuable tool. By interacting with other medical professionals, nurses can stay in the loop about the latest practices and developments in medicine. This can also facilitate a rich information pool that is especially necessary in an ever-progressing field like healthcare.
  • Innovation: Engaging with new people within the medical community can also pave the way for innovative opportunities. The medical community has professionals from different specializations and their diverse expertise can result in a collaborative environment. This can ensure better communication, resource sharing and as a result can improve patient care. Such an environment also spurs innovation which can contribute to advancement in medicine.
  • Community: Nurses can also find a support system within the community that can help them cope with challenges that nurses face on a daily basis. Nurses can seek advice on medical issues, career growth and even lifestyle adjustments. They can also seek guidance from colleagues and also offer their own advice. Shared experiences and opinions can reinforce feelings of community and camaraderie among them.
  • Advocacy: Networking can help nurses connect with other professionals who are passionate about similar interests. Shared opinions can contribute to a united front that can be leveraged to design and implement better healthcare policies. Nurses can also become familiar with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures which can help them imbibe cultural sensitivity. This can prompt them to make more empathetic decisions in patient care.
  • Career advancement: Networking can also improve chances of career advancement. Greater exposure to the industry can offer more opportunities for career growth. Nurses can get to know about potential job openings through the grapevine. They can even get in touch with other nurses who can offer advice on advanced specializations in areas they are interested in. This can help them move further in their career.

Final thoughts

Networking can only be effective if you invest your time and energy into the relations you build. Therefore, you mustn’t just do it for the sake of doing it by half-heartedly collecting business cards. Building lasting connections can support you in unexpected ways and help you learn and grow as an individual. It is also beneficial to the medical community.

So, you must be genuinely interested in getting to know your peers and be willing to help and learn from them. You must also be mindful of your goals while networking so that you can build connections that are mutually beneficial and aligned with your interests.

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28608520/
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