As a nurse, you might think networking isn’t as vital to your career as the on-the-job skills you hone every day. But networking is a vital element of career success.

Networking effectively takes commitment and planning, so taking the time for an approach that will work for you will help you get the most out of anything you do.

You’ll meet people who can help you

When you network, you’ll meet a lot of people–some of them will be able to help you in varying ways and some are just good to know. Making connections is especially beneficial if you’re looking for a new job, but it’s also important for finding out about excellent academic programs, scholarship information, research collaborations, or new industry developments. And the more people you know in the nursing industry, the more information you’ll have to help you avoid anything that doesn’t match your own values and goals.

You’ll meet people you can help

Many people see networking as something that will help them, and sometimes that can detract them from really engaging with the larger nursing community. Nurses are notoriously focused on helping others before they spend time helping themselves. But don’t forget about the immense value you bring to the table. No matter where you are in your career, you have information and perspective that will help others. Whether you can share your technology knowledge, your perspective on diversity issues, or your history in moving to a new role, others will appreciate it.

 

You’ll gain professional credibility

Those who are prominent in any industry often earn that prominence because they strategically seek out new opportunities and people–they network even when they aren’t looking for anything specific. As more people become familiar with who you are, your name will come up for any range of opportunities. For instance, because you spoke on a local panel, you might be invited to speak at a national conference. Your work on a patient advocacy committee could lead to an invite to teach a course. Your collaboration with a medical center could give you an early heads about a new career opportunity.

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You’ll be ready for opportunity

Don’t wait until you need a new job to start networking–build it into your professional plan. When you are attending professional organization meetings or conferences and actively participating on committees and groups, you are establishing an important foundation. That solid foundation ensures your readiness when an opportunity comes along. You will know, and have built relationships with, people you can turn to for advice or for a reference. You’ll understand what experience and skills are important for your next step. And you might even find a new path in nursing you were unaware of.

 

Networking provides opportunities to make important connections while also giving some of your time and talent back to the industry.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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