10 Networking Tips for Nurses Who Hate Networking
By Portia Wofford, Founder of Your Nurse Connection
Networking is an essential aspect of your nursing career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 70% of jobs are found through professional networking. Whether the need to network is for mentorship or to land a dream job, it is crucial that one builds a secure network of professionals. Opportunities that arise from networking are priceless and limitless. Career advancement and placement are just two benefits. Being a confident networker is a necessity.
Here is a list of 10 ways to build a long-lasting and robust network:
1. Social Media
Today is the age of social media. There is no better time to be a nurse. With access to resources and tools, at the click of a tab, social media is quickly becoming the number one resource for professional networking. It is one of the most effective ways to build alliances. Tens of millions of people use the internet, and social media is where you can find potential partners, mentors, and collaborations. Using hashtags on Twitter and Instagram is an easy and straightforward way to spot those who share the same interests as you. With the click of the follow tab, you’ll have access to them. Linkedin is a sure way to find quality contacts. When using Linkedin look for those who are high-level networkers. These are the people with at least 500 connections and have optimized profiles; meaning their profiles are entirely set up and complete. Send connection requests to those of influence in your industry (aka the movers and shakers). Linkedin also has a feature that will connect you with those who are open to mentorship and consulting. These are people who are willing and wanting to network. Utilize it!
2. Facebook groups
Let’s face it. Facebook isn’t going anywhere. With the ever-changing algorithms, Facebook groups are still an effortless way to make connections. Facebook groups offer visibility with colleagues from all over the world. With groups such as Nurse CEOs for nurses interested in entrepreneurship and The Travel Nurse Network-the Gypsy Nurse, for those interested in travel, there is sure to be a group that fits your needs. Reading the descriptions of the group is the simplest way to determine if it’s a fit for you. Try joining no more than ten groups, if you are a novice networker, as to not become overwhelmed. The key to networking is building genuine relationships. Introduce yourself and your specialty; comment on posts; share relevant articles or resources to the group; most of all be active.
3. Become an Influencer
Like to write? Then, become a blogger. Like to teach? Fill your Instagram page with graphics of interesting facts. Create content that is compelling, informative, and intriguing. Influencers network with other influencers. One does NOT need to have a 10k+ following. All that is necessary is value. When others see you are offering valuable information and substance, your profile will become attractive, and before you can say, “network” you will be receiving invitations to seminars and conferences. Use your nursing knowledge. Even if you’re a novice nurse, share your journey with other novice nurses, nursing students, and aspiring nurses. Be consistent. Connect with and contact those whom you are beneficial to your network. Like, comment, and tag. Share ideas and information. Be noticeable.
Volunteering gives the chance to learn a new set of skills while providing the experience of working with diverse types of people. Find charities and organizations that align with your cause and goals. Volunteer to work events and fundraisers. You’ll get to connect with the community and learn more about the industry. Here, you have a free opportunity to rub elbows with those in your space. Use this opportunity to learn from the leaders of the organizations and to build meaningful relationships.
Conferences are an excellent way to meet like-minded individuals. They provide a way to be in the same room, with those who have similar interests. You will have access to successful nurses who have achieved the goals and aspirations you have set for yourself, and they are accessible. This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to speak with some of the top leaders in your specialty or industry. Prepare yourself. Have networking cards readily available. Have a professional email address. Make certain your social media pages do not show you in a bad light. This could be your opportunity to meet a mentor, and he or she wants to know that they will not be wasting their valuable time.
6. Have a signature look
While attending events, conferences, and seminars make sure you are noted. Be certain there is something about you that is memorable. Wear a signature color, statement jewelry, or clothing. Stand out! Be sure to remain professional, yet confident.
7. Ask for a connection
Utilize family, friends, and classmates. There might be someone, in their network whom you should connect with. Ask for a warm connection. Do not be afraid to ask. It’s a small world. There’s a chance you already know someone who can offer an intro.
8. Networking cards
What happens when you meet that Director of Nursing or Chief Nursing Officer of your dream unit? What will you have to present when he or she asks for your contact info? You want to make sure that others have an uncomplicated way to access to you. Networking cards are tangibles that you can use to create connections. They can be icebreakers or conversations starters. They focus on YOUR unique selling proposition. Include your specialty, certifications, degrees awarded, and a link to your full online resume. Be sure to include links to your Linkedin account, blog, and any other pertinent information.
9. Be ahead of the curve
Once the initial connection is made, prepare for the next contact. Use your connection’s business card to jot down keywords, phrases, or distinctive characteristics to assist you in differentiating and remembering people. ALWAYS send a follow-up email. A few days to weeks after the initial contact, reach out and mention something that he or she said in the previous conversation. Send links to articles that may peak their interest; showing you are a giver and resourceful: two traits that can get anyone through almost any door.
As with anything, the more you network, the better and the more comfortable you’ll become. Join a local Toastmasters if you have difficulty with public speaking. Get comfortable with meeting and speaking with strangers. Find your strengths are and use those to your advantage. Work on your weaknesses.
A nursing career has many career paths that one can explore. Becoming an adept networker is a skill that can open doors to new career paths, positions, and even specialties. Whether you want to climb the ladder or become a nurse entrepreneur learning to network is a useful skill. Often, the adage is true: it’s not what you know, it’s whom you know! Ensure that those whom you know can help get you to the next level.