Networking is essential for the longevity and health of your nursing career. From nursing school colleagues and professors to coworkers and preceptors, building a robust network of professionals inside and outside of the healthcare industry is crucial for the long haul.
Here’s a list of 10 top ways for nurses to build a powerful network over time:
- Conferences and seminars: Nursing conferences are a great way to meet like-minded colleagues. Whether you attend a conference dedicated to a particular nursing specialty or a seminar focused on a specific skill, these types of events are ripe for cementing valuable new connections.
- Nursing associations: Joining local, regional, or national associations affords you opportunities to meet others potentially interested in the same things you are. If networking locally, you can meet nurses and build collegial face-to-face friendships.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the top online platform for professional networking. Most LinkedIn users don’t understand how to make good use of the site; it behooves you to learn and explore. Identify potential colleagues, and move those relationships to telephone, Skype, email, or even face-to-face meetings.
- Social media: Nurses hang out on many social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and SnapChat, and hashtags related to nursing are useful for searching for salient conversations and people. Like LinkedIn, you can move the most promising relationships to other forms of communication.
- Informational interviews: Requesting an informational interview with another professional who you’d like to know is a form of deep networking. These interviews can have a slightly more formal feel; reach out to individuals who work in specialties that interest you, or in facilities you’re vetting.
- Family: Your family members may not be healthcare professionals (or are they?), but your favorite uncle or aunt may have some good connections. Let them know you’re seeking introductions to build your network.
- Meetups: Formal and informal meetups happen in cities and worldwide every day. You may not meet nurses in a hiking meetup, but you can make new friends who may open up a whole new world of connections and opportunities.
- Professional groups: The Chamber of Commerce and other local business networks can be good opportunities, but may be pricey. See what’s happening in your city or town related to professionals getting together.
- Guerilla networking: In guerilla networking, you walk boldly into a physician’s office or other facility, for example, and strike up a conversation with someone you want to meet, or ask to speak with the nursing manager. This can feel scary, but bold you moves can make interesting things happen.
- Ad lib: Networking can happen anywhere, at any time. When you’re out to lunch, shopping for dinner, or walking the dog, you never know who you may cross your path. You don’t have to feel mercenary; just keep in mind that the person walking that big poodle could be your next best professional contact!
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist for Nurse.com. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. He can be found at NurseKeith.com.