NTI: Mastering the Art of Professional Networking

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    Networking - we hear about it all the time. How great it is, what it will do for us, how we should all do IT! However, HOW do we do it? This article will focus on how to network.

    NTI: Mastering the Art of Professional Networking

    AllNurses staff recently attended AACN's National Teaching Institute 2017 in Houston, Texas. One of the interesting presentations was Mastering the Art of Professional Networking, presented by Alvin Jeffery, MSN, CCNR, RN-BC and Anna Dermenchyan, RN, BSN, CCRN-CSC.

    Networking is one of the best ways to make connections that will lead to success in your nursing career. Getting to know other nurses on a professional basis often leads to a tip on a new job, insider information about a prospective facility or unit and can expand your circle of friends.

    Develop a Goal for Your Network Adventure

    Are you looking for a new job? Do you want to expand your knowledge of your present specialty? Are you returning to school? Do you want to expand your social media network? What is your goal when you talk about networking? Before you go to a networking event, determine your goal and decide what you would consider success? Is it getting an insider view of a particular hospital or unit? Getting the name of a unit manager or recruiter? Making new contacts in general?

    Benefits of Networking
    • Potential employment and consulting opportunities
    • Identity for oneself
    • Be more effective in your current job
    • Engagement with others
    • Build a support system

    Networking at a Nursing Conference

    That said, few of us can walk into a room of strangers and start instantly networking. Here are some tips for your networking success:

    Be interesting. If you want to have interesting conversations you must be an interesting person. You can do this by staying up-to-date on current events, both in and out of nursing, and doing some homework before the occasion. Check the agenda in advance and research the guest speaker, host, sponsor, or award recipients. Knowing these details will empower you to initiate discussions.

    Step outside your comfort zone. Most of us are more at ease conversing with people we know, which means we often end up not meeting anyone new. Summon the confidence to independently work your way around the room. While you're at it, introduce yourself to someone you've never met before and start a dialogue. If you're unsure whom to approach, simply look for a person who is alone.

    Invite others to join you. People naturally gravitate toward those who are warm and welcoming. Display open body language, wear a smile, make eye contact, and always be ready to shake hands and introduce yourself and the others in your group to newcomers. Make every effort to be inclusive of everyone.

    Refer to people by name. When you meet someone new, use his or her name as soon as you can in conversation. If you forget the name of a person you've met before, ask for clarification. A gracious way to do this is to say, "I remember meeting you, but somehow I've forgotten your name. Can you please tell me what it is again?"

    Have an escape plan. Knowing how to exit a conversational cul-de-sac can be your saving grace. If you need to leave a group discussion, simply excuse yourself at an appropriate moment. When someone has you cornered in a one-on-one situation, however, acknowledge that you were listening before you leave. Wait for a natural break, comment on a point they made, say their name, and move on. Try something like this, "It sounds like your research project is fascinating, Jeremy. Best of luck. Enjoy the rest of the conference."

    And here are some additional networking questions for national conferences:
    1. What's your name?
    2. Where are you from?
    3. What do you do?
    4. Is this your first time at NTI? If not, which other ones have you been to?
    5. What's been your favorite thing so far?
    6. Who inspires you?
    7. Which workshops/tracks are you attending at the conference

    Social Networking

    The rules for social networking vary depending on the goal of your networking. Some of the more common tips are:

    1. Create a professional networking profile. No matter what social media platform you choose, it is imperative that you develop a professional profile. Include a professional headshot of you. Do not use a selfie or a picture that could be misinterpreted as less than professional.
    2. Join professional groups or discussion boards. You already have a common ground and this makes it easier to talk about your commonalities.
    3. Volunteer with your professional organization - this is a great way to network and develop relationships. Volunteering doesn't necessarily have to involve a lot of time and effort but volunteers are noticed and that's one of the goals of networking.

    Pitfalls of Networking

    As with anything positive, there are also negatives. Avoid the following issues:

    1. Always go to a networking event prepared: find out the dress code in advance, bring plenty of business cards and understand your goals.
    2. Do your research on the organizer: what is their goal for this event?
    3. Don't arrive late. When you arrive with others, it automatically opens up a conversation. If you arrive late, the conversations will have already started and you have missed out on valuable networking time.


    Networking for Medical Professionals
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    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 15, '18
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  3. by   spotangel
    This is so true! Great article!
    Keep those smartphones away and have a conversation with the person next to you or someone at the buffet table. At work, I make it a point to greet and wish the team when I see them and round in the morning. It is amazing how proactive people are at work when you say, 'How can we help this patient/family member". Sometimes they may not know but may know someone who might be able to help.
    Do small things with great love and the chips just align themselves!
  4. by   AndrewCraigRN
    I completely agree with this. I've spent a lot of time networking and building professional relationships. I would agree about volunteering and adding to your professional community. That's why I've decided to be more active on this community as well as answer FAQs about travel nursing. Doing so has allowed me to connect with fellow nurses and I get a job offer at least once a week via Linkedin or directly through my e-mail. I understand the desire to private and disconnecting nursing from your personal life. I think that line of thinking is archaic. We live in a social world that relies upon getting out there and spreading your own "personal brand" or rather your "nursing brand."

    Some other ways to get out there and spread your "identity of one's self":

    Build your own nursing website

    For example, I built AndrewCraigRN.com to help connect with employers, share my nursing skills, and educate about travel nursing.

    Create your own youtube channel

    I've started to create youtube videos about travel nursing to spread the awesomeness of travel nursing. It helps network by adding to the nursing community.

    Join multiple nursing forums and websites

    Helps to spread your message and network to multiple populations of nurses.

    Join multiple social media channels

    Most people don't use all of them. Helps network more.

    Anyway, I totally agree with networking. The amount of opportunity out there is staggering for nurses! Just get out there and gets some!
    Last edit by AndrewCraigRN on May 30, '17