While I was resistant to the word ‘networking’ early in my career, I have come to realize that relationships with others in all areas of medicine can have some serious benefits for both parties. Networking opens your eyes to healthcare as a whole, both clinical and business aspects. It can serve you well in times when you have a question or are looking for a career change. In my last post, I discussed these benefits. But, how do you go about making these connections?
The easiest way to form professional relationships with other nurse practitioners, healthcare providers, and those otherwise working in medicine, is to simply take advantage of chance encounters. Get to know the people you work with. But, if you want to take things a step further, or anticipate a job change in the near future, you may want to be more intentional about the process. So, where can you make professional connections as a nurse practitioner?
Start as a Student
You nurse practitioner program is the ideal place to make future professional connections. You never know where your classmates may live and practice in the future. Keep in touch with former classmates by hosting quarterly get together’s post-graduation. Don’t forget your professors. Keeping in touch with your NP program’s career counselor and your favorite faculty members could lead to future teaching or practice opportunities.
Make the Most of Linked In
Linked In (follow us!) has cornered the professional social media niche. It may be creepy to ‘friend’ professional connections on Facebook, and it’s probably best if they don’t see those pics your college roomie posted of last Saturday night. But, Linked In offers a low risk way to open up lines of communication with those you may not be able to meet in person. Connecting with a prospective employer or another NP working in your specialty with a well-written Linked In message is perfectly appropriate. The social media site maintains a reputable forum for networking. Just remember to keep it professional.
Connect at a Conference
It’s time for Vegas, baby! Each and every week there are continuing medical education conferences occurring across the country. Pick a CME conference or two to attend and reach out to other providers throughout your trip. If you meet another NP and strike up an easy conversation, continue it over coffee. Chat up the docs you sit next to in CME courses. Approach speakers after presentations asking questions and introducing yourself. Follow this introduction with a Linked In request and a “good meeting you” message. This gives you a basis for connecting should you have a future question or request.
The annual AANP conference is a great place to start this venture as it is nurse practitioner focused. NPACE also offers continuing education directed at NPs (I will be attending in Nashville in September!). Don’t let yourself be intimidated- others will appreciate the fact that you reached out.
Join Professional Organizations
Didn’t make the AANP conference this year? Not to worry. Joining a local nurse practitioner organization can have similar benefits. Getting to know nurse practitioners on a local level helps you keep tabs on the healthcare scene in your area. How do state laws affect your practice? Where are the best places to work? How does the local job market look? These types of questions are of utmost importance and an likely be answered by your local colleagues.
Do you intentionally network as a nurse practitioner? If so, what effect has it had on your practice?
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