“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 physician assistant, a nurse practitioner, or an allied health professional, nurturing a network of colleagues can help open doors at any stage of your career. Here, we offer six tips to help healthcare providers cultivate a robust and beneficial professional network.
1. Join professional organizations
There are countless organizations, associations, and societies that you can join, whatever your specialty may be. Maintaining a professional membership in these types of organized groups allow 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 in your specialty 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 will undoubtedly be invitations to various conferences, workshops, seminars, and other 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, or choose to travel to a place you’re interested in visiting. Check the agendas for speakers or topics that may intrigue you. Also, look outside your specialty once in a while to expand your perspective. Once you’re there, introduce yourself to as many new people as possible, and be sure to wear a name tag and keep business cards handy.
3. Utilize social media
After attending a conference, social media sites offer a 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, Doximity, QuantiaMD, WeMedUp, and DoctorsHangout. Also, check out our past blog post on Finding a Job Through Social Media.
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. Using their business card or their social media presence, send a note saying it was a pleasure to meet them. Try to mention one idea they shared with you that was especially interesting. Also invite them to reach out to you in the event you can help them in any way. Networking should be two-way street.
5. Be charitable
Some community events may offer volunteer opportunities, so consider donating your medical expertise. Not only can volunteering offer you 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.
6. Accept locum tenens contracts
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 opportunity allows you to step in at different practice settings in different locations, which increases your exposure exponentially. At reputable staffing agencies, like Weatherby Healthcare, you get the advantage of working with a dedicated consultant who finds placements to best suit your needs and career goals. Once you’re on a job, you get to work alongside an ever-changing cast of colleagues, which is a great way to increase your marketability. Plus, you have the opportunity to test-drive other settings, to see what best suits your preferences.
Whichever networking strategies you choose – and we highly recommend using all six – the benefits are likely to be far-reaching and long-lasting. Employers fill the majority of job openings through the unadvertised, or hidden, job market. In fact, statistics from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking. Just 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.