In healthcare, as in most industries, career opportunities often depend on more than grade point averages, test scores, and extracurricular activities. Networking matters because having other people understand your value can mean you become connected to job opportunities that would otherwise not cross your path. The more people there are who would quickly recognize you as a good fit for specific roles, the more your job options are likely to expand.
Here are 5 things to keep in mind as you network within the healthcare community.
- Always be prepared. You may attend networking events as a deliberate way to make relevant connections, but you never know when you may organically network by simply meeting people in your normal life. As such, you should always have a quick but clear explanation of the value you bring (or can bring) to an organization. This “elevator pitch” should start with a few words about a problem you help solve and end with what happens after you solve it.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help. If you meet someone or hear of someone who may be able to help you, don’t hesitate to explain to them why and how you think they could be helpful and ask if they would be willing to help. If the person is not receptive, you will know to back off, but most people are very willing to help people out – even strangers. Because people are especially willing to be helpful if it does not take a lot of work for them, do all you can to take any of the work off their shoulders.
- Show gratitude. Whether someone helps connect you to a job or not, it is important to always make sure people understand how grateful you are for their time and their attention. We are all busy, and any time someone gives you is time that could be spent elsewhere. People tend to appreciate – and be more willing to help – people who are mindful of their time and their resources.
- Observe good etiquette. Regardless of whether you are at a networking event or simply meeting or spending time with someone, there are certain things to keep in mind to ensure the other person feels respected and that they perceive you as someone they would want to help or be comfortable recommending to others. Most of these things are intuitive, but it’s important to keep in mind the importance of eye contact, listening at least as much as you speak, and staying off your phone.
- Follow up. It is good to stay top-of-mind for people in your network, but you also want to be sure not to be a burden. Today, people are more bombarded with calls and emails than ever before, so when you do follow up with folks, try to provide some value in your correspondence. This value can come from sharing an article that may benefit them or connecting them to a friend or colleague that could be good for them to meet.
Takeaway: Networking is common practice for people who are successful in healthcare, but not all networking is created equal. The most important thing to keep in mind when networking is that your relationship with people in your network should be much like your other relationships – respectful, reciprocal, and mutually beneficial.
5 things to keep in mind as you network within the healthcare community:
- Always be prepared
- Do not be afraid to ask for help
- Show gratitude
- Observe good etiquette
- Follow up