Network or not work —Stephen Rosen
One of the most common reasons professionals network is related to job-seeking. Networking has become the go-to solution when seeking employment or new employment opportunities; however, networking is not just for job hunting. Networking is about building relationships. Who you know, who they know, and who knows you are the building blocks to creating meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships.
According to the American College of Healthcare Executives, “Networking is the art of acquiring information for the purpose of creating opportunities and making informed choices.” Networking is not about using people or taking advantage of others and their positions – it is an art and should not be a haphazard after-thought. One should ALWAYS be prepared because most everyday interactions are networking opportunities. AND you may see that person again.
Networking in Healthcare
There are many healthcare organizations networking opportunities and just as many reasons to attend. Attending networking opportunities allow one to be on a platform to articulate their message in a more intimate and less-intimidating environment. Networking provides a great setting to allow for meaningful discussion to take place with the purpose of learning new things and meeting new people. And of course, the main reason people go to networking events is to meet others in the industry and share info. Networking provides great opportunities to obtain leads, exchange business cards, and beyond.
For the past 3 years I have held the position of Networking Chair on the Arizona Healthcare Executives’ (AHE) Programming Committee. The most profound aspect of being in this position was witnessing how small the healthcare world is and experiencing how intertwined we all are. These, usually unknown, connections span diversity, unite healthcare sectors, link healthcare settings, and transcend job responsibilities. I’ve learned how networking can open up unknown job markets, foster support, inspire encouragement, cultivate relationships, and is seen as a marketable asset.
Simple tips to help in making networking purposeful
1. Be prepared
Always know what your message is – what is your story and be honest. If you are seeking job or sales opportunities include that info in conversations, if you are seeking information about a competitor or marketing leads, put it out there. In all instances of information exchange, be prepared to articulate a response to the common questions you may be asked. The better prepared your responses, the more likely your story will be remembered.
You’ve just spent valuable time making a face to face human element connection, do not waste that time by taking a business card and filing it away. Follow up with a phone call or an email, but even more important, be available when someone reaches out to you – when asked for advice; give it, and when possible; help.
3. Stay in touch
“Internet has made the world a small town again” – Ana White. After you have made that phone or email outreach, utilize social media; LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube, Google, all can contribute to building up your network. Make connections, join groups, and interact meaningfully.
4. Continue to Network
One of the most common mistakes about networking is not networking with enough people. In addition to making more connections, each time you attend an event it gets more comfortable.
Network Is For Everybody
Do not let anyone tell you that you do not need to network. Everyone can benefit from networking; students, early careerists, CEOs, managers, those seeking new employment opportunities, consultants, those new to the area – anyone and everyone can be positively impacted by networking, making connections and building relationships. Think of networking as a face to face resume review. Your name is more likely to be remembered after a face to face connection than your resume in a stack of resumes.
Recently at an AHE educational event on the topic of Leading a Multigenerational Organization, a group of seven Grand Canyon University Health Care Administration program students were in attendance. They hung around after the program to network with the speakers and the other attendees. I admit I will probably not remember any of their names but should anyone of them reach out to me later and remind me of the event, I will go out of my way to respond to their need just because of that one-time face to face connection. These GCU students were all in different years of their undergraduate degree, but already understand the importance of getting out there and creating exposure for themselves.
A Few Things to Remember
Even if you are not looking for a job now, you never know when you may be – so continually investing in building relationships now will most likely prove beneficial in the future.
When networking you will likely be with like-minded people who are have the same interests as you. Trust that by just attending a connection is already there – and strike up a conversation.
Networking opportunities are all around and here are some places to start:
1. Alumni events
2. professional associations
3. Professional conferences
4. Former co-workers and current co-workers
5. Social Media – search “local networking events” “networking events near me”
6. Event apps like; Eventbrite, 10Times, Facebook – explore event, etc.
At the end of the day, networking takes time and time is money so be sure to make to most out of each networking opportunities attended by being prepared with your story and responses, following up with those you’ve made a connection with, use social media to your advantage but be meaningful (and professional) in conversations and posts, and continue networking.