“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” This expression rings true for many professions, and medicine is no exception. Whether you’re a physician, a PA, or a nurse practitioner, nurturing your network of colleagues can open doors at any stage of your career. These six networking strategies for healthcare providers can help you build and cultivate your own medical professional network.
1. Join professional organizations
There are countless organizations, associations, and societies you can join, whatever your specialty. Maintaining a professional membership and actively participating in association activities is a great way for healthcare providers to learn from the experiences of colleagues and keep current on the developments in their specific field.
It also provides an excellent opportunity to become noticed and increases the chances of connecting with people who can provide the right advice and endorsements at key points in your career.
2. Attend events
Among the perks of a professional organization membership are invitations to various conferences, workshops, seminars, and virtual events. Don’t be too quick to decline these invitations. Events like these offer the opportunity to mingle with a wide range of peers, which can be a powerful networking tool. You can pick a conference that is nearby, travel to a place you’re interested in visiting, are attend a virtual event.
Check the agendas for speakers or topics that may intrigue you. Also, look outside your primary specialty to expand your perspective. Once you’re there, introduce yourself to as many new people as possible and be sure to wear a name badge. If you make a connection, be sure to get their contact info for later follow-up.
3. Connect on social media
After attending a conference, social media sites are another great way to keep up the connections you have made. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date, complete with a professional photograph, and optimize your page with keywords relevant your field. That way, when potential employers search for professionals with your skillset, you will show up on their list. Other top social networking sites for medical professionals include Sermo and Doximity.
4. Make the most of informal opportunities
Formal occasions such as conferences and seminars are not the only way to meet influential people in your field. Informal get-togethers, such as class reunions, award ceremonies, and community events will also put you in touch with people who may be significant connections in the future.
When you meet someone you’d like to stay in touch with, always follow up. A quick email or text message is an easy way to send a note saying it was a pleasure to meet them. Try to mention one idea they shared that was especially interesting. Also invite them to reach out to you if you can help them in any way. Networking should be two-way street.
Some community events and professional associations may offer volunteer opportunities, so consider donating your medical expertise. Not only can volunteering provide you with new experiences and introduce you to new people, it also enhances your reputation and gives you the chance for personal fulfillment. Even if you don’t have a lot of time to spare, a little goes a long way. Many medical volunteer opportunities can be found online through organizations like Maven Project, The United Way, and VolunteerMatch.
6. Work locum tenens on the side
Another excellent way to make an impression in new communities is through locum tenens work. Using, say, holiday weekends or available vacation time to accept a locum tenens assignment on the side allows you to step in at different practice settings in different locations, which increases your exposure exponentially. Once you’re on a job, you get to work alongside new colleagues, which is a great way to grow your professional network. Plus, you have the opportunity to experience practicing in a new environment and learn new methods of providing patient care in your specialty.
Whichever networking strategies you choose, the benefits are likely far-reaching and long-lasting. Employers fill a majority of job openings through the unadvertised, or hidden, job market. Remember that you get what you give, so get out there, stay involved, be open to new experiences, and prepare to reap the benefits of smart professional networking.
Updated April 7, 2022