Networking with other clinicians is an important component of your professional life as a Nurse Practitioner. Connecting with other clinicians provides a path to developing both your clinical and professional resources. None of us can function in a vacuum, so building your network is a great way to collaborate, increase your skill set and develop a support system. And if you happen to be considering a new job? Networking remains steady in the lead as the most common method to find a new position.
Despite the benefits of networking, many NPs are not sure how to get started. Here are few tips to help you feel more confident in building your personal network.
Relax, you have already been doing it!
Networking opportunities grow organically and can be disguised as friends. Think current or former classmates, instructors or colleagues. Just because you have a personal relationship with folks doesn’t mean you aren’t doing a little networking too. You probably already reach out to the people in your immediate circle when you are seeking guidance or advice. I think of this as a more passive style of networking, but it’s still networking.
What goes around comes around.
If you want to be on the receiving end of networking, you should also be on the giving end. Networking is most rewarding when it goes both ways. There is nothing worse than only tapping into your resources when you need something. Every NP has a unique history and skill set. Make yourself available to others, let them know you are open to consultation and sharing. Offer to be a mentor or reference.
Get involved in your professional organization(s).
Attend a meeting, post on their discussion boards and when time allows volunteer to be on a committee. Not only will you grow as a professional, but you will meet a lot of interesting NPs! Local organizations are especially great tools to establish professional relationships for NPs who have relocated or are on travel assignments. When I was president of our state organization, I received many calls and emails from NPs who were new to the area or on locum assignments and were looking to connect with other clinicians in the area.
Relationships that began in person are easily maintained online. Using one or more social media platforms will help you stay in touch when face-to-face interaction is not feasible. I have several colleagues who reside in other states that I see at conferences or meetings only once or twice a year, but thanks to the wonders of technology we can communicate virtually all year round. One of my favorites is the forum on Clinician1 which allows NPs and PAs to post and comment on a variety of healthcare topics. Many specialty organizations have discussion apps available for download, too.
Networking doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating. Taking a fresh look at those around you will help you to recognize that you are already networking. Most of networking is maintaining relationships that already exist while being open to meeting new colleagues. Incorporate professional organizations and technology into your networking strategy. And don’t forget to look for opportunities to be a resource to others. The benefits to connecting with other clinicians are numerous and worth the time and effort.