Resolve to Polish Your Networking Skills in 2017

Resolve to Polish Your Networking Skills in 2017

As the end of the year draws to a close and you start thinking about resolutions and a fresh start, consider a few professional steps to boost your career.

At the top of your list should be your resolve to go to networking events and to make a lasting impression at each one.

You don’t have to be the life of the party and you don’t have to schmooze with each and every person there. Networking is a good way to meet others in your industry while also sharpening your professional communication skills.

If you’re a natural extrovert in social gatherings, networking events shouldn’t be too difficult for you. Introverts might have a harder time, but they can still be successful networkers.

No matter what your own networking personality is, there are a few things to remember that will help you work a room like a pro.

Practice Your Talking Points

You can, and should, practice your networking efforts. Invite some friends over and practice introducing yourself and making small talk that is meaningful. Practice with coworkers at lunch. Stand in front of a mirror and read off prepped cards. Practice until you are comfortable holding a conversation that has real impact with someone you just met.

Investigate the Event

Do a little legwork so you know what you want to accomplish. Do you want to meet a specific person? Do you want to find out about a new trend in nursing? Are you looking for information about certification? Decide what you want to find out and choose at least four people who can help you so you can introduce yourself.

Look Friendly

Looking friendly doesn’t mean you have to plaster a smile on your face. But a natural smile helps when you are talking to others. Mingle. Chat with the person next to you. Do not stand against a wall or sit at a table silently. Be genuinely interested in what’s going on around you and people will catch onto that feeling.

Have a Prop

Some people feel especially uncomfortable if they don’t have something in their hands. If you relate to that, by all means grab a plate of food, a glass of water, or even just a small stack of business cards. Just don’t do more than one at the same time or it will get in the way of you being able to shake hands with people or hand out your business cards.

Follow Up

Because you are networking to connect, you will surely leave a networking event with some business cards or at the very least some names and contact information. Follow up with people who can help you, those to whom you can offer your help, or just people you formed a connection with.

Growing your professional network takes work and part of that is just getting out and meeting people at events. Each event brings something different to the table, so figure out how your professional experience and skills can shine in different situations.

And remember, you have just as much to offer as anyone else there, so don’t think of networking as something you do to get something. Figure out ways you can offer to help others, too, and you’ll be much more satisfied and likely to form strong professional relationships.

Job Hunting Amid Fear of a Bad Reference

Job Hunting Amid Fear of a Bad Reference

Are you looking for a job, but haunted by what your former supervisor may say when contacted for a reference check? Were your previous evaluations bad or were you terminated? The good news is you can move forward despite an imperfect work record. 

First, stop worrying about what may be said and find out, by contacting your previous employer. See if an agreement can be reached so the negative incident or work history is not shared. Explain that you have grown from the experience and will apply the lessons learned to new opportunities. 

If reaching out to your past employer is not an option, there are others strategies to pursue when a bad mark exists on your work record:

  1. Check references. There are companies that will obtain a reference from your supervisor so you know exactly what the response is. A “neutral reference” simply confirms your employment dates and title. If the reference is negative, you can avoid using that person as a reference or have an attorney send a cease and desist letter to senior management. 
  2. Network. One of the best ways to find a job is by word-of-mouth. Attend industry events and consider joining organizations. 
  3. Create a LinkedIn account. Keep your profile updated in case prospective employers check it. Engage in other forms of social media, too. 
  4. Volunteer. Hone old skills or develop new ones in a health care setting. You can add your experience to your resume. Also, your work may lead to a paying position.
  5. Be honest. Questions about why you left your last job or a lapse in your work history will come up during the interview. Be prepared. Never lie and keep the conversation concise, productive and positive.

Don’t let your past employment problems jeopardize future job prospects. Take action to transition into your next job wiser and more focused.  Do you have other tips? Please share.

Robin Farmer is a freelance journalist with a focus on health, education and business. Visit her at