Would it surprise you to know that networking is a crucial element of the nursing profession? If you’re a nurse already, that shouldn’t surprise you – in fact, it’s something you should have been doing for quite some time. The statistics suggest that when it comes to finding jobs that will advance your nursing career, around 70 percent of them are usually found through networking. Not only that, but networking will provide you with mentors, mentees, and a great support network. If you want to make the most out of your nursing career, networking is definitely something you’ll need to find time for.
Of course, just because it’s hugely beneficial and something that can improve your working life, that doesn’t mean that all nurses find networking easy. Some actively hate it, while others just find they are so busy with their day-to-day working life (and trying to have a good work-life balance) that they don’t have time for networking, whether they know the importance of it or not.
If that is the case, and you either ignore networking because you don’t enjoy it or you don’t make the time for it, the following tips should help you. They will offer advice about how nurses can network better, even if they dislike doing so in normal circumstances, and there will be at least one – and probably more than one – option here that will suit even the busiest nurse. Read on to find out more.
Social media is everywhere, and it’s highly likely that most people will be part of at least one network, and probably more. This makes it so easy to network as a nurse because you have access to all the tools you need to do everything online, from your laptop, tablet, or phone. Even if you think you don’t have time for networking, a minute spent replying to a comment or reading a post and reacting to it can be enough. The key is to do this regularly, and ensure you post, comment, and react at least once a day. In that way, you’ll make connections and find common ground with other healthcare workers. This is, although it might not seem like it, networking.
With tens of millions of people online, it’s probable that you’ll come across some people who can help you and whom you can help when it comes to their nursing careers. Perhaps you can form a good support network to help you discuss issues and ideas, or maybe you’ll connect with someone who knows of a job opening that would suit you perfectly. There are many reasons to make time to connect with others, and when it comes to social media, you don’t even have to make that much time – it can be done in moments. This is actually a positive thing; too much time spent on social media is bad for your mental health, so it’s best to avoid scrolling aimlessly for hours. Having a purpose and spending just a few minutes dealing with it makes a lot more sense and is better for your mental health.
We’ve just mentioned social media in a broader sense, and sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram can all be useful. However, it might be that Facebook is the most useful of all. This is due to the groups that people make and which you can join and be a part of.
Facebook has been around for decades now, and although it might not be a place where teenagers ‘hang out’ anymore, that doesn’t mean it’s not a useful place to visit for networking purposes. In fact, Facebook has undergone a variety of changes across the years, and it is now more about groups and connections than anything else.
These groups make connecting and networking with other people who are in the same position as you, with the same likes and dislikes, the same working ideals, and so on, so much easier. Search for a nursing group, and you’ll see there are hundreds. Narrow it down to something more specific, or join a few general groups and see what people are saying. Can you join in with the conversation? Even if you don’t think what you have to say has merit, don’t be shy; you should still comment, even if it’s to ask a question. You just never know who you’re going to meet.
Of course, there are some rules to Facebook groups, and that includes being polite and behaving well. In most cases, this is what people will do, but it’s wise to think about what you’re going to write before committing and making sure it’s kind and pleasant. You never know what other people are going through.
Become An Influencer
Becoming an influencer is easier said than done; that’s true. However, it’s also a great and fun way to network effectively and make important connections to help you get where you want to go in your nursing career. There are a number of different ways that influencers work. One way is to blog. When you set up a blog and consistently add content to it, along with implementing the right SEO practices, you’ll find that, slowly but surely, you gather a good following. People will want to know what you have to say and they’ll be interested in your opinion on things. When you can do this, you’ll be able to network with everyone who gets in touch with you to comment on your blog or even ask a question.
Remember, whether you’re a blogger or an Instagram influencer, the important thing to remember is that you don’t need thousands of followers to make an impact. Just a handful could be enough if they are the right people for you. Also, as a nurse, you must remember to be respectful of your patients, your colleagues, and the place in which you work. Don’t give out anyone’s personal details or allow them to be recognized – don’t post their image without their consent. The last thing you want when you are trying different ways to network and boost your career is to get into trouble when it comes to patient care and confidentiality and potentially stall your career in the process.
Volunteering is great for nurses in all kinds of ways. You can put your nursing skills to good use helping others, perhaps through volunteering at a blood drive or in a homeless shelter as the healthcare professional on call when you’re available – there are many other options too, and it will depend on how much of your free time you want to spend volunteering.
If you are a nurse because you want to help people, which is likely to be the case, then this is an excellent way to continue to do that even when you’re not at work. It hones your skills and is something that a potential employer would want to see, which means that even without the networking aspect of volunteering, it’s good for your career advancement prospects.
However, networking is certainly another advantage of volunteering that can’t be denied. When you are volunteering, you are going to be with other people who feel the same as you and who want to help. They might also be healthcare professionals. They will certainly have a lot in common with you. You’ll also meet many members of the public, and since you’re a nurse, you’ll quickly be able to form a connection and element of trust with them. This could lead to many potential future paths, depending on who you meet and what they might be able to do for you or you for them.
Get More Education
As a nurse, you’ll want to enhance your education and learn as much as possible about every aspect of what you do. This could mean obtaining official qualifications that will help to move you on in your career. Once you have your RN or BSN, you could go on to get a masters degree in nursing, which will allow you to advance your career even further. Once you’ve achieved that, you could study for a post masters FNP degree, to specialize as a family health practitioner. Plus, there are many other options that could be open to you. The important thing to remember is that you need to keep learning.
Not only is gaining more education important for your career, but it could help you when networking as well. Firstly, having specific qualifications will put you in a ‘group’ with others who have worked to the same level – you’ll have something in common, and this is a good way to get started when it comes to making a connection. Not only that, but often when you are studying, it is a good idea to form study groups (and this can even be done if you are learning online) to ensure you understand the topics and have the motivation to keep going. This is another form of networking; all kinds of people will be working the same degree or qualification as you, and you may find just the person you were looking for in that study group.
Finally, you can use your school to make connections online. We very briefly mentioned LinkedIn above, and this can be an ideal place to the network via your phone when you have a few spare moments. What takes time with LinkedIn is building up your connections. If you can find people who attended the same school as you, and ideally the same course, you can make that connection much easier. The more connections you have, the more will open up to you.
There are so many ways for nurses to find like-minded people to connect with, but some will take more time than others. If you are always busy, it’s still worth taking the time to attend conferences when you are able to, and because they are industry-linked, you might be able to specifically ask for the time off for personal and career growth reasons. In fact, in some situations, your manager might even suggest that you attend a conference because they feel it would be good for you. If this is suggested to you, take the opportunity, even if you are unsure if it will help you. The chances are, it will help you, and at the very least, it will be an interesting day or two where you can learn a lot.
When you attend a conference, you’ll be able to network with people in the same position as you, as well as those who are further on in their careers. Plus, because it’s face-to-face networking, it’s actually something that many people prefer over online networking. Although it takes more organizing and more time, it is something they are more comfortable with.
Even if you don’t use the conference to actively network, you can leave your details with various people by signing up for more information, which could be useful. Plus, there will be important and influential guest speakers. Listen to what they have to say because they have been through what you have been through and are going through, and hearing their advice could be as useful as specifically networking with someone. Remember, this is advice that not everyone is able to hear because not everyone is attending the same conferences as you (or any conferences), and that puts you in a privileged position. Take note of what is said and use the information wisely to become a better nurse.
Ask For A Connection
Sometimes, one of the most straightforward and honest approaches to networking is the best. You don’t have to attend a specific event, you don’t have to sign up for anything online, you don’t even have to go anywhere different; you just have to ask for a connection.
This could be friends and family, it could be colleagues, it could be anyone you meet. If there is someone who you feel might make a good connection for any reason, reach out. This might be hard at first, particularly if you are more introverted, but once you get into the habit of doing it, it will become easier, and you’ll make some amazing connections you might have missed out on before.