Ch. 1: What is Networking?
What is networking? Simply put, it's interacting with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one's career.
Networking is a critical activity for individuals to secure future career prospects, and strengthen existing professional ties.
Networking has the ability to open up new job opportunities for you, and connect you with individuals you previously hadn’t connected to.
This means that you can hear about jobs you didn’t know were becoming available soon, and you could potentially score an interview before the job opportunity is posted across every platform.
In other words, networking might give you a foot in the door before others have the chance to establish their own foothold.
This means that networking is critical to ensuring that you have a successful job search process, and we have gathered the best tips and tricks for you to not only learn about networking, but improve your networking skills and ultimately improve the job search process for you throughout our Networking Guide.
People build and maintain professional networks to land jobs they desire and to keep career doors open for opportunities in the future.
Many networks are built of people of similar esteem and job level (but don't be afraid to add high-level figures to your network).
In fact, many people don’t even consider the high-level figures in the networking events to be great opportunities to explore.
Sometimes it can feel intimidating to go start a conversation with a C-Level executive at a networking event, or that you should stick to those around your same level.
The problem with this thinking, is that there are tens of others who go to the same networking event and think the same thing. Or worst case scenario, you make a bad impression and feel that you can ruin your prospects for that job.
These are irrational, as in most cases the hiring decisions are made from individuals who report to those bosses several ladders down.
This means you can rest assured that you don’t have to spend too much time worrying about whether or not your bad impression might lose you the opportunity to even interview for the job.
In other words, there is nothing but potential positives by taking the time to mingle with others from every position in networking events.
You might even create such a solid impression on a C-level executive, that they name drop you to the hiring managers or recruiters, and encourage them to fast-track your consideration process.
Take the time to get to get around your fears associated with networking with those individuals and increase your chances of creating a solid connection that will help pay off in the long run.
Many opportunities are exposed by similarly positioned contacts, because they are more likely to correspond with you and share findings.
For instance, if a Registered Nurse hears of an opening soon on her floor or rotation, she will know about it before the request gets down to human resources and the hiring team.
This means they can share the potential opening with you if you happen to be a Registered Nurse before it gets posted on all the wide job boards or recruiting sites.
This means you have an inside-track on when you should apply, and a potential acquaintance or connection who can speak to your passion in the healthcare industry, and working with hospital patients.
Not only is it important to foster potential connections between potential future coworkers, but you should also strive to create connections in acquaintances you hadn’t considered before.
For instance, many individuals think that their job connections should be solely focused on those that you are already familiar with, such as friends and family.
However, in most cases, most connections that ultimately lead to a position come from recommendations or word-of-mouth from those individuals you didn’t know before.
This means that you need to create a conscious effort in reaching out beyond what you’re typically comfortable with — and try to create connections where none had existed before.
It's important to build a network of acquaintances (weak ties) rather than good friends and family (strong ties). Weak ties can provide insight into a world you don't regularly visit, and it shows you opportunities you couldn't hear about from family and friends.
Essentially, those individuals we had mentioned you might not know very well would be considered weak ties.
These ties are the ones that will help expand your network of connections at hospitals or healthcare facilities you are potentially interested in working in.
Networking is crucial to the job search. Most jobs aren't obtained through cold-contact, and a person has a better chance of getting the job if there is a connection.
Meaning, an introduction from someone who works for the company or by someone who knows another person at a desired company.
If you don’t have much experience reaching out to someone you don’t know real well, or have a friend of a friend — then you can look at is as a challenge and a skill you can develop over time.
As with anything else, the more you practice it — the better you’ll get at it.
All it takes is a simple message to reach out via a social network platform like LinkedIn.
If you attend a conference or interact with someone you didn’t know before, then all it takes is a simple introduction and a handshake at those events to introduce yourself and establish a connection.
Now that we’ve covered what networking is, we’ll breakdown what the purpose of networking is — so you can understand what you’re working towards and why it’s important.
What is the Purpose of Networking?
The main purpose of networking is to find someone who can help you get a job you want.
It sounds shallow and a bit like manipulation, but it doesn't have to be. You’re not just establishing a relationship or a connection for yourself, you’re also establishing a connection for them to use in the future as well.
Building professional contacts is great, and as long as you give as much as you take, then there is a relationship.
Don't just take what the other person offers — there needs to be reciprocation.
For example, send articles and job postings you think the other person would appreciate, and share things from your life to build a type of friendship.
Networking is ultimately about person-to-person connection and making friends outside of your circle — friendly and helpful. If you are genuine in your networking and help others, they will be more likely to help you.
The ultimate goal is to land a job, but it never hurts to make friends in the process. Take the opportunity to be a positive influence in another person's life, while trying to better your own life.
There are plenty of reasons that you should use networking as a tool. We’ll cover a majority of the reasons as to why you should consider networking and the purposes behind it.
• Learn About a New Profession
The first reason that you should feel compelled to network is that you can learn something new about a profession.
Networking with Registered Nursing professionals could be a good way for you to understand what the role entails before actually getting started on the pathway to becoming a nurse.
• Learn More About The Healthcare Industry
Another purpose of networking is that you can learn about the healthcare industry. You can learn about recent activities or trends that are becoming popular in both the overall industry, and your role within the industry.
This can help you to determine whether or not you would like to transition your role into something that might sound more interesting in the long run, or just to stay aware of some of the recent changes that might impact your position moving forward.
It’s always helpful to remain informed about your role, the future of your role, and the future of the industry. These things can be gathered when you network with other like-minded professionals from the same industry.
• Organizations and Professional Associations
Another purpose of networking is to expand your personal network of potential organizations or professional associations that might help you in your career or job outlook.
As a healthcare professional, there are plenty of useful associations and professional organizations that can help individuals find potential jobs or careers.
For instance, there might be an entire organization or association around Telemedicine careers.
By attending one of the conferences put on by those organizations, you can connect with other like-minded professionals within the same career, instead of just the same industry.
Within these professional organizations or associations, you could potentially discover new and exciting employment opportunities, as in many cases both hospitals and healthcare facilities will advertise their openings to these organizations.
This means that you can find out unique openings that are exclusively advertised or available to members of those associations or organizations.
• Career Contacts and Collaborators
Another purpose of networking is to expand your personal network of potential career contacts or collaborators.
It’s important to remember that you can rise through the ranks of your profession through the use of collaboration with others. Working in the healthcare industry is a team commitment, which means that your career is also technically a team commitment.
You can expand your personal network of potential career contacts or collaborators through the use of endorsements on recommendations.
On LinkedIn for example, you might connect with someone who can provide you with an endorsement on your profile that showcases you do have skills that are required as a Registered Nurse.
These endorsements or positive words of mouth can help push your potential consideration for a position to the next level.
The job search process is like any other business, if others are recommending your skills, and bragging about the good job you do as a professional, then you can help separate yourself from those others who don’t have the same recommendations.
This means that you should spend extra time when developing connections to potentially explore ones that could lead to recommendations down the road.
In doing so, you can help separate yourself from those other candidates who don’t use their connections to the fullest.
There are other plenty of unique things that you can gain from earning a recommendation from a potential connection that you can establish from associations or professional organizations.
• Help Someone Else
Another purpose behind networking that you should be encouraged to explore is the ability to help someone else.
You never know what kind of impact helping someone else achieve a job or solve their problem might do for your career.
For instance if you provide a recommendation for someone, they might in turn provide a recommendation for you down the road.
In addition, it always feels good to help someone in need with your expertise or effort.
They might not provide a recommendation to you, but they will ultimately owe you a favor in the long run. You can request a favor from them in a variety of ways, not just asking for a recommendation.
You can ask them to keep their ear to the ground metaphorically to help you find a new job opportunity, or provide some other key insight for your future job prospects.
• Gain Valuable Insight
Another purpose for networking is that you can gain valuable insight into the industry or certain employers.
This means that you can learn more about potential places you’re interested in working.
For instance, if you didn’t know much about a local hospital and some of the recent investments they’ve made into their workforce — networking opportunities allow you to explore the potential benefits of working there.
In contrast, you might think that you’d really like to work in one location, and then attend a networking event or connect with others and find out that the general consensus amongst your professional peers is that you should steer clear of that facility or hospital.
• Collect Advice
Another potential reason for networking includes collecting advice about potential job search tips.
Even though you might be using a wide array of potential tips and tricks to help improve your hospital job search, some of the best advice and tricks can be gleaned from those who have prior experience working in the healthcare industry or in hospitals for quite some time.
Even if they mention some tips you have been implementing, there is a good chance that they could recommend something or a path of action that you hadn’t considered before.
In the competitive job marketplace, any tip you can use to your advantage when seeking a new hospital job opportunity is important — and you might not have learned about any new trick or tip without first asking at one of your networking events.
• Expand Your Social Reach
Another purpose behind networking as a healthcare professional is that you can expand your social reach. Social media has increasingly become a part of our lives in terms of finding a new job opportunity, or connecting with new individuals.
When you network with others, you might not only expand your social media reach by encouraging them to follow you, but you can also expand potential career opportunities by finding useful social media platforms or tools to follow on your own social media accounts.
• Inform Others About Your Career Search
Another purpose behind networking is that you can publicly inform others about your intentions to find a new job, and where you plan on going throughout your career.
Several of the most important purposes of networking we’ve covered earlier have to do with learning about other opportunities, or establishing connections that might pay off in the long run, but this one has to do with you letting others know about your availability.
Sometimes a position might not be available yet, but announcing your intention to find a new job opportunity or state that you are currently seeking new opportunities is a great option for you to potentially hear about a new opening.
• Open Up New Communication
Another purpose for networking is that you can potentially open up a new line of communication in the job market.
You don’t exclusively meet healthcare professionals or potential coworkers at networking events, you also meet professionals from different backgrounds or roles.
For instance, you might attend a Doctor’s conference, but meet someone who is involved with Human Resources.
After interacting with that individual for a bit of time, you find out that they are the one that departments contact when a new position needs to become available.
• Potentially Create A New Position
Another purpose behind networking is that you can also lobby for certain things.
For instance, if you are connecting with some individuals and are constantly hearing them complain about one aspect of a job or a job that they could see being useful, but doesn’t exist.
This means that you could potentially lobby for the hospital or healthcare facility to create a position that doesn’t exist — and if it sounds like something you’re interested in, or could potentially see yourself in as a role, you could lobby for you to take the position.
When you lobby for a potential position that doesn’t even exist yet, you can demonstrate that you are a go-getter.
You can demonstrate that you are passionate about the healthcare industry, and are willing to solve any problems that might arise.
Using our example, if there was a problem that no role could solve, you can demonstrate that the position you are lobbying for could solve that problem.
This helps demonstrate that you not only want to help solve problems within the healthcare industry — but that you’re passionate about working in the healthcare industry.
When you demonstrate both of these through networking events, additional opportunities might even become available to you in the future because of your demonstrated work ethic and passion.
For instance, they might not have a healthcare job for you currently because there aren’t any open positions, and they might be unwilling to create a new position based on your recommendations — but they will recall your enthusiasm at the networking event for working in the healthcare industry down the road and will give you a call or send over an email asking you to apply for a new position that recently became available.
This means that the purpose of networking isn’t only to get a job in the present, but to also establish a potential relationship that can pay off with a recommendation to apply in the future.
Frequently, unique opportunities like that become available when attending networking events.
Now that we’ve covered the purpose behind networking, we’ll break down why you should consider networking in more depth.
Why Should I Network?
There are plenty of reasons as to why you should network.
Even though it feels like there aren’t any significant reasons as to why you should network due to the recent innovations with social networking, there are still plenty of reasons to invest the time and effort to create personable relationships.
• Word Of Mouth
One of the best reasons as to why you should network is to drive word of mouth recommendations.
Word of mouth recommendations are essential for landing a potential job. Like any other business, individuals rely on recommendations and referrals more than any other marketing ploy.
This means that a positive recommendation from a connection you make at a networking event or seminar will help ensure that you’re considered for a position right off the bat.
This is exactly what you’re looking for. You want someone to say, “Oh I know the perfect person for that role! His/her name is [name], they have a ton of experience for that role. I’ll send you over their information.”
Essentially, the individual who is being told about your fantastic experience and work ethic is being told from an objective perspective.
This means that the recommendation caries a bit more weight, as it doesn’t feel so biased like it would if it were coming directly from you.
If you can find a connection that will speak on your behalf and recommend you for future opportunities, you have found an individual who can market for you — something many would consider invaluable.
• Seek Mentors
Another reason you should network is to find mentors. Mentors are critical to have a successful career, and in some cases they can come from a variety of sources.
You don’t have to find a mentor that is exclusive to your industry.
In many cases, some of the best mentors come from a different career or professional industry — and they will offer you the best advice you can ask for.
Networking events can help you meet individuals who are very willing to share their knowledge with young professionals who are either just starting out their career, or need some advice throughout their career.
Solid mentors don’t come around very often, and some of the best ones attend networking events looking to share their advice with others — so you should seize that opportunity and connect with them.
• Potential Industry Opportunities To Stay Ahead of the Curve
Another reason that you should consider networking is understanding potential market or industry opportunities.
We briefly covered this above, but understanding where the healthcare industry or hospital industry is going is critical to understanding how your role might develop and evolve over time.
If you attend networking events and learn that hospitals and healthcare facilities are seeking employees who are getting new credentials, new certifications, new licenses, or need to obtain additional skills — you can be ahead of the curve when seeking those skills.
If you’re ahead of the curve when it comes to gathering those skills and obtaining those credentials — then you can ensure that you increase your employment prospects.
As we covered earlier, you can also find potential new jobs or careers that might become available due to changing healthcare standards and industry motivations.
People you potentially network with can help you identify new career opportunities that hadn’t existed before.
• New Career Ideas
Another reason that you should consider networking is that you can get new ideas.
Maybe you feel stuck lately at a point in your job search or your career. Networking events can help guide you to potentially coming up with some new ideas to spur advancements in your career.
Or more importantly, perhaps you can learn about some new ideas that you can use and incorporate into your job search to give you a leg up on the competition.
Perhaps you’ve been doing one thing in your job search that is no longer effective, but some of the recent hires in a nearby hospital networking event detail some extra tips or tricks you can use to spice up your job search.
If someone can offer you some tricks to make your job search a little bit easier, you should take them.
• Find Inspiration
Another reason you should consider networking is that you can find inspiration in some of the most unlikely places.
One of the key aspects of the healthcare job search environment is that sometimes it can feel daunting.
Perhaps there are times when it feels like the job marketplace is too competitive. This is a normal feeling when you are searching for a job, because it can take a little bit of time to find that perfect employment match.
Fortunately, networking events can provide you some insight into some solid inspiration that can encourage you to stay positive throughout your job search.
Networking events can help provide you with a unique opportunity to listen to some others and hear their stories, and potentially gain some tricks as we mentioned earlier.
• Dynamic Friendships
Even though we have covered several different reasons you should form connections at networking events to help you in your job search or career search, you can also form some unique friendships.
You can find and develop some useful friendships and make new friends that you hadn’t considered before.
• Positive Influence
As we’ve briefly covered earlier, another reason that you should consider attending networking events is because you can be that positive influence for someone else.
Without question, there are other individuals who don’t have the same experiences as you, or have attempted some of the various methods you have tried.
This means that you can share your experience with someone else to help their job search go a little easier, or provide some critical career advice that they hadn’t considered before.
• Six Degrees of Separation
You might have heard this statement before: everyone is connected within six degrees. Essentially what this means, is that you might know someone, who knows someone, who knows 3 other people.
This means that if you connect with 2 other individuals, you can technically connect with everyone.
In addition, the phrase also means that there is no more than six other individuals you have to get to know, before you can find the person you’re looking to talk to or interact with.
In essence, networking is a great way for you to find that person that has been difficult to connect with, or interact with regarding a job that you’re interested in.
You should network to increase your chances of getting a job you actually want.
You can get about any low-level job you apply to on job boards and advertisements, but to get a fulfilling job you will enjoy, you more than likely need to have an "in".
That “in” comes from knowing somebody who is closely connected to an open job or knows of a job that might open up soon.
Since there is so much competition in today's job-marketplace, the more help you can get, the better.
That's why it's important to meet people from companies you want to work at, and get to know them.
If you build a good enough rapport with people, they can help you land jobs. They can also let you in on opportunities you didn't know existed.
Basically, you should network in order to get the job you actually want.
You need as many opportunities as you can take with the economy as it is, so meeting as many people with multiple doors to open is a great step up in getting a job you won’t regret getting.
Building a network of connected people is key to landing a job today.
Meet as many people as you can — reciprocate help and opportunities.
Be a positive influence and a good person, and most people will be more inclined to help you find a job &mash; or give you a job.
Focus on meeting people outside the circle of people you usually hang out with, as they can lead to new and better prospects.
Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help, or send articles and tidbits you find interesting or insightful.
Build a great network and maintain it to give yourself all the keys you need to get ahead in the job-game.