In the world of work, networking is invaluable in creating opportunities. You may not realise it but you network everyday; people you talk to on the way to work, shopping, at the dentist or socially with friends, etc. are all part of networking.
Not all jobs are advertised, so networking can help put you in touch with an organisation through mutual contacts. You may become aware of an opportunity before it is advertised by a colleague or friend of a friend which can give you a good start above other candidates. If you can be recommended to an employer by an employee they trust and value who is part of your network, this will help you with progressing.
How to build networks
- Get people you already know to introduce you to some of their contacts
- Introduce yourself to others in canteen
- Ask to shadow other healthcare professionals
- Volunteer for project work, working groups, etc
- Attend conferences or events
- Arrange informal visits
- Raise your profile by contributing to newsletters, blogs, articles, etc.
- If you read an interesting/relevant article, contact person who wrote it.
- RCN or activist activities
Advantages of networking
- Enables you to keep up to date with what happening in profession
- Allows you to meet people with similar interests
- Sharing useful information
- More variety in what you do
- Mutual support
- Improved communication
- If people see you as someone who is interested and involved in what’s going on, they're more likely to want to work with you
Some useful tips:
- Remember, first impressions count
- Use your communication skills to build professional networks
- Talk to someone in the career area you would like to work
- Show an interest in a particular field, specialism or role
- Think of 5 skills, qualities or achievements you would like someone in your network to know about
- Attend events and conferences
- Talk to potential employers and arrange an informal visit or shadow
- Join LinkedIn so that you can link in with and talk to like-minded professionals
- Join professional forums
- Attend jobs fairs
When attending jobs fairs...
- Plan what you're going to say to employers
- Research employers you'd be interested in speaking to
- Pick less busy times to speak to employers
- Always be positive
- Leave a copy of your CV and contact details
- Always take contact details of the person you have spoken with to follow up afterwards
Useful phrases when networking in person
- Hi, my name's... What do you do? / What field do you work in?
- I see you work in [X field of nursing], what's that like?
- This is my first time at this conference / jobs fair / board meeting, what about you? / Is this your first time at this conference / jobs fair / board meeting?
- Have you done your revalidation yet? What did you think?
- So how did you get into [field of nursing]? / What made you go into [field of nursing]?
- Was there anything in particular you were hoping to get out of today? / What brings you here today? / Who were you looking to see today?
- Did you go to the talk on X? / What did you think of the presentation? / Are you going to go to the talk on X later?
- If you ever need any advice with X, you're welcome to take my e-mail and stay in touch. I'd be happy to help.
- Would you mind if I took your e-mail / connected with you on Linked-in / via e-mail?
Make a list
Keep a list of people you know and contacts you've made. You might want to consider:
- How do you know them?
- Do they work in a role you are interested in?
- Could they put you in touch with someone relevant to your career?
- Are there any gaps in your networks and how can you fill these gaps?