For nurse practitioners, building a professional network can seem insignificant. As a matter of fact, you may even believe you dodged the networking bullet by choosing a profession in healthcare. Business lunches and happy hour mixers – who has time for those?! However professional networking shouldn’t be overlooked by NPs who value their careers and have aspirations to continue advancing in their profession.
Networking efforts may prove irreplaceable the next time you’re looking for a job, or decide you’re interested in expanding your career beyond face-to-face patient care, for example. But, often, as NPs we find ourselves overwhelmed by the demands of balancing our practices, families and social lives with very little free time to spare. What hours are left in the day are usually spent catching up on some much needed z’s before our next shift. Fortunately though, networking doesn’t have to be painful or time consuming. Here are four ways nurse practitioners can build a professional network in next to no time.
Create a professional profile on a networking site
They don’t call it social networking for nothing! If you’re already spending a few spare minutes on social media during your lunch break, why not do it on a platform that can also advance your practice? Creating a professional profile on a networking website allows you the ability to grow your connections from the comforts of your home with the simple click of a mouse or the touch of your phone. While LinkedIn is a very popular site amongst professionals from every field, there are many other platforms to choose from as well. As an added bonus, most professional networking sites allow you to make connections further in groups specific to the nurse practitioner profession and specialties.
Network at Conferences and Trainings
Conferences and trainings are not only an opportunity to visit a neat city while earning CME credits. Consider them as well to be an excellent networking opportunity that you can take advantage of while you learn. Face-to-face networking like this brings many advantages that online networking will never be able replicate such as the ability to showcase your true personality and build genuinely meaningful relationships with like-minded professionals (connect with us at our first ever CE conference in March 2018!). Don’t feel that you have to introduce yourself to every nurse practitioner at the conference; think quality over quantity by spending time getting to know a handful of other NPs over meals and during break times or downtimes, engaging in more personal and informal conversations.
Join an Association
Joining the local chapter for your state’s NP association or an association for your specialty is a great way to get to know other advanced practice providers in your community who have similar interests and passions as you. This type of networking is a wonderful way to build camaraderie with other providers in your community, as these NPs can relate to many of the same challenges you face. Plus, being a part of an association helps you stay up to date with what’s going on in your field and gives you the opportunity to get more involved in advancing the profession. Being informed of how the field is evolving will help you break the ice when you meet new contacts, as well as having meaningful conversations about the NP profession as you grow your network.
Engage with your coworkers
Don’t neglect the networking opportunities that are right within the walls of your workplace. Making a point to strike up a conversation or cultivate your existing relationships with other healthcare professionals who are already in your circle is a great way to grow your network. You don’t have to get too personal for it to be effective; keep professional boundaries but engage in small talk to get to know them better. If you’re in a larger setting such as a hospital, don’t limit your daily interactions to only those whom you work directly with. Create small talk with others you encounter while you’re walking down the hallways of the hospital, riding in an elevator, or standing in the cafeteria lunch line.
To be truly successful at networking, continue making new connections while at the same time nurturing the relationships you have already made. Remember, networking is not only a great opportunity for your career, but a great way to serve and support other nurse practitioners as well.