Networking is a valuable part of any profession, and nursing is no exception. Although the main role of a nurse is to provide patient care, building a strong professional network can be the springboard for personal and career growth. In today’s digital age, networking extends beyond casual interactions. It involves attending training days, utilizing online platforms like LinkedIn, being social at work, tapping into alumni support, and even becoming a ‘thought leader.’
This article explores why networking is crucial for nurses and how they can do this effectively.
Why networking is vital for nurses
Networking is a powerful tool for advancing professional development. It allows nurses to learn from the experiences and expertise of their peers, stay updated on the latest trends and best practices in the field, and access valuable resources that can contribute to their growth as healthcare professionals.
The most obvious and common reason for networking is to find job opportunities. In nursing, networking can help a nurse get their first job, or to pivot and change specialisms. In either case, nursing is a diverse field with various specializations, and job opportunities can be both abundant and competitive. Networking increases the chances of discovering job openings, both within and outside the current workplace.
Many job vacancies aren’t publicly advertised, and the best way to learn about them is through word-of-mouth and personal connections. In an industry where it is important for professionals to build trust, employers prefer to choose someone they already know with an exemplary track record. This is why professional associations in nursing are important. Studying a nursing program at Rockhurst University, for example, can open doors to various healthcare career opportunities to network with fellow students, faculty, and healthcare professionals.
Experienced nurses can serve as mentors, offering guidance and advice to those starting or switching their careers. Building a network allows for mentor relationships to form, providing support to navigate the complexities of the healthcare environment. Finding a mentor can start during nursing education. Many nursing course facilitators are in (or have held) senior nursing positions. Students will also be mentored on work placements, which are a requirement for recognized qualifications.
As the healthcare profession can be emotionally taxing, and nurses may encounter stressful situations, a supportive network of colleagues can offer an empathetic ear. This helps nurses cope with the emotional demands of the job.
The healthcare landscape is constantly evolving. Networking with colleagues and peers also allows nurses to exchange knowledge, share insights, and collaborate to find solutions to common challenges. This collective intelligence can lead to better patient care and improved job satisfaction.
Networking opportunities for nurses
Although nursing is a busy occupation, training days and workshops are excellent opportunities for networking that are worth dedicating time to. Sometimes, employers who see the value in these networking opportunities will allow paid time off to attend them. Events bring together professionals from various healthcare backgrounds, creating an environment for learning and connecting with like-minded individuals. Nurses can learn about new techniques, innovations, and industry updates while building relationships with other attendees.
In the digital age, LinkedIn has become a powerful networking tool. Nurses can create and maintain a professional profile, highlighting their skills, experience, and accomplishments. It acts as an online resume and platform to connect with colleagues, supervisors, and healthcare professionals. Active participation in healthcare-related groups on LinkedIn can encourage connections and knowledge sharing. This can take just a few minutes a day, or more while commuting. The more a nurse puts into it, the more they can get out, but it doesn’t have to be overly time-consuming.
Building a network doesn’t always require attending external events or spending a lot of time online, however. Nurses can start by building relationships within their workplace. Being friendly, cooperative, and supportive of colleagues is part of the job, but it can also lead to building strong connections. Regular conversations with coworkers can provide opportunities to share experiences and insights.
School and university
Nursing schools and universities often offer alumni support networks that can be valuable for career growth. Alumni associations can provide access to job postings, mentoring opportunities, and a chance to reconnect with former classmates.
Some nurses may also consider becoming thought leaders. Within nursing, this involves a nurse establishing themselves as an authority in a particular field. They can achieve this by consistently sharing valuable insights, research, and innovative ideas with the nursing community. Contributing articles to nursing journals, speaking at conferences, and participating in expert panels helps nurses gain recognition and build a strong network.
Tips for effective networking
The first step to effective networking is setting goals. Every individual should decide what they want to gain through networking. It could be expanding knowledge, finding a mentor, or a new job. Defining goals will benefit the networking efforts of a nurse.
Active listening is important too, as effective networking isn’t just about talking. Nurses should take the time to understand the perspectives and experiences of their connections. This can lead to more meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships.
After attending events or making new connections, nurses should always follow up. They can send a thank you message or connect on LinkedIn to stay in touch. Consistent communication is key to maintaining a strong network.
Furthermore, networking is a two-way process. Individuals should offer assistance, insights, or support to others before asking them for a favor. By being a valuable resource in a network, others will be more willing to help.
Finally, nurses should focus on being themselves and letting their personality shine. Authenticity fosters more genuine and lasting connections than trying to keep up with a fake persona.
The importance of nurse networking
Networking is an essential part of a nurse’s professional journey. It offers numerous benefits, from career development and job opportunities to mentorship and emotional support. The strategies for networking are as diverse as the field of nursing itself, from attending training days to utilizing online platforms like LinkedIn. Effective networking can make a significant difference in a nurse’s career and may be the lifeline to success in the dynamic and rewarding world of healthcare.