Benefits of Networking in Your Personal Life
Some people might cringe at the thought of networking to grow their professional career, or they avoid it until they’re looking for a job. Consider networking with the people you already know and you just might add to your reference list, gain a recommendation, or discover professional opportunities you may have overlooked.
The thought of networking makes many people cringe. It can evoke a vision of a room full of strangers with half trying to sell themselves, while the others try to find a good place to hide. Often, we don't think about the importance of networking until we're looking for a new job, need a reference or recommendation, or to gain professional connections. Perhaps developing a different view of networking that intertwines with our personal life could help increase our chances for career growth.
What-or Who-You Know
That coveted position, or the inside scoop about a new opportunity, is still often about who you know. Many positions are filled before they're advertised. To reduce the guesswork of sorting through resumes with comparable skills and uncertain work ethic, often a recommendation from a friend, or a co-worker, might prompt a manager to make that connection.
That recommendation may never come if others aren't aware of what you do, or what you're looking for in a job. You don't have to be looking for a new position to discover exactly what you're seeking. Instead of saying, "I'm tired of my job," Or "I'm looking for a new position," be clear about what you do and what you're looking for by saying, "I want a job that allows me to..." or request their help by asking what they think would be a good fit for your skills. You never know what opportunities might be available if you don't ask. Share your dream position with your:
- Family members
- Personal social network
- Social media network- which may include friends of friends or previous colleagues
Be a Natural Networker
Those who excel at networking don't always realize that's what they're doing. They make connections and positive impressions as a part of life. Many do this by asking curious questions and responding about what they do in more of a storytelling, or intriguing, manner rather than regurgitating the same information.
Make your response memorable. Many personal acquaintances may already know you're a nurse. But nurses can have a variety of skills and positions. Do they know what skills you excel at or want to grow? Or are they aware of what you might be good at if a position comes up? Ask them to describe your skills, or the job you're seeking, to see if you need to convey this information more clearly.
To help expand upon your skills, instead of saying, "I'm a nurse," consider adding intriguing details that uniquely describes what you do, or would like to do, such as:
- "I introduce babies to their Mom."
- "I help the elderly find ways to stay at home."
- "I'd like a chance to teach."
- "My next career step is..."
This method may make your response more memorable. If the person is someone new to you, offer a unique bit of information. Rather than discussing the weather, or using conversations starters most of us fall back upon, share something you've recently learned or read about. That way people are more likely to remember the conversation if you need to follow up.
Not Just for Extroverts
If you attend a networking event, try not to cling to the people you already know in fear of starting a conversation. Even though those of us with a more introverted personality may shudder at the thought of talking about ourselves, it's helpful to realize that networking isn't just about talking. The traits that make nurses good caregivers can help us excel in making connections. Because nurses are often:
- More attuned to the needs of others
- Better listeners
- Able to excel at interpreting body language
These skills may help us notice the ones at a networking event who appear to mingle with everyone but they aren't really networking well. They seem to have FOMO, or a fear of missing out. They're talking to one person while scanning the room for who they want to talk to next. Or they appear distracted, as if they're waiting for their turn to talk.
Being the person who listens and pays attention lets each person know that they're worthy of our attention. This task can be challenging, especially when you want to stay present with a room full of stimuli competing for your attention. Practice focusing on the other person and being present in conversations with your family and friends.
Building Your Network
Networking doesn't have to be a planned, or unpleasant task if we work it into our everyday life. Sharpening these communication skills can be beneficial when it comes time to look for that transfer, new job, or to get a reference or recommendation. Sharing our career goals and specific skills with the network of family and friends we're already surrounded with might reveal the perfect opportunity, or secure that glowing recommendation.
About Maureen Bonatch MSN, BSN, RN
Maureen Bonatch MSN, RN draws from years of experience in nursing administration, leadership and psychiatric nursing to write healthcare content. Her experience as a fiction author helps her to craft engaging and creative content. Learn more about her freelance writing at CharmedType.com and her fiction books at MaureenBonatch.com
Joined: Mar '05; Posts: 62; Likes: 264
from PA , US
Specialty: 20 year(s) of experience in Leadership|Psychiatric Nursing|Education