How to Build a Professional Network — and Why You Should Start Now
January 17, 2018
Networking is Crucial for Physicians
The mere mention of “networking” can conjure cringe-worthy images of rubbing elbows in forced social situations, or climbing the 1980s-era corporate ladder. But learning how to network effectively just might be the most powerful tool physicians can command to advance their professional careers. With career dissatisfaction and burnout among physicians on the rise, it’s time to reconsider the value of actively building and sustaining robust professional networks.
Stay current to stay relevant
Healthcare is evolving at a rapid pace, and traditional approaches to practicing medicine are continually being re-examined, reformulated and replaced. Maintaining a professional network with colleagues who stay informed about the latest challenges, trends and best practices can keep your own skills and knowledge from stagnating. You can keep up with emerging areas of inquiry, new specialty fields and job opportunities by staying in touch with a variety of physicians in different work environments.
Help shape modern medicine
Physicians who interact routinely with other physicians are better positioned to develop a “big picture” view of the daily challenges that arise in healthcare. The insight and perspective gained through professional networks can help physicians identify new ways to address old, familiar problems. A broader, informed perspective can also facilitate serving in leadership roles that may help shape medical research priorities or determine healthcare standards and practices ripe for revision.
Don’t confuse social media with networking
In the era of social media, more traditional approaches to networking often get short shrift. Although
Facebook each serve a purpose—including keeping up with healthcare news and career opportunities—never mistake them as substitutes for good old-fashioned conversation and personal interaction.
10 tips to network more efficiently
Yes, networking can take some time, but here are 10 tips to help you build and expand your professional network in the most efficient and effective ways possible:
- Before anything else, determine your professional goal(s) and how you can help others. This might sound counter intuitive, but only if you are genuine about helping others will they want to help you in return.
- Identify people who are likely to have the connections and knowledge to help you reach your goals. Start with those you know and expand outward from there.
- Amplify your physician job opportunities by staying in close touch with
your placement specialist. The team at Merritt Hawkins is in daily contact with top health systems, clinics and practices across the country.
- Prepare your elevator pitch. Keep practicing until you can convey who you are and your professional goals in less than 30 seconds.
- Join professional groups and associations and take advantage of their physician networking opportunities by regularly attending meetings and conferences.
- When meeting a new, professional contact, get to know the person a little and start by asking for information—not a job.
- Participate in online discussions and forums to make new contacts you can meet later in person at conferences/networking events.
- When you use social media for networking, give extra consideration to what you post and how you are represented online. Based on the American Medical Association’s policy statements, the American College of Physicians and the Federation of State Medical Boards have
social media guidelines you can reference.
- Stay in contact with former colleagues and employers. Schedule 5-10 minutes each day for a call; slow and steady relationship building is the foundation of good professional networking.
- Follow up after you make a new contact. Business cards can help ensure that new professional contacts have your information, but nothing beats sending a text, email, or even a handwritten note to demonstrate your appreciation and interest.
There are many reasons why cultivating a professional network is important for physicians. Ultimately, expanding the depth and variety of your professional relationships helps you become better at what you do, and can translate into an abundance of new—and often unexpected—professional opportunities.
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