Networking Tips for Busy Nurses

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Nurse Keith CarlsonIn today’s job landscape, no career is immune to downsizing, not even nursing. Yet at the end of a 12-hour shift, the last thing any nurse wants to do is go out and network. Fortunately, there are more creative ways to connect with other nurses that don’t require too much effort.

We spoke with Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, a board certified nurse coach and founder of Nurse Keith Coaching. Carlson is the owner of Digital Doorway, a popular nursing blog, and co-host of RNFM Radio.

Why is networking important for nurses?

When you develop authentic, symbiotic relationships with a growing cohort of like-minded professionals in your industry, you’ll be able to tap the expertise and collective genius of that network when you need it most. Networking can lead to friendships, jobs, opportunities, collegial professional relationships and many unknown and unforeseeable positive professional outcomes.

How can nurses strengthen their networking skills?

There are a plethora of resources for strengthening networking skills, including blogs, articles, videos, podcasts, live seminars, webinars and books. In the 21st century, there is no reason for a professional to not be networking at all times — both online and offline — and always thinking ahead and building symbiotic and positive relationships with an eye towards the future.

How can nurses tend to their network without taking away too much of their precious down time?

Networking online is one way to leverage time and meet like-minded professionals in the comfort of your own home. That said, even if you’re busy, continuing to build a robust network is crucial. You may be comfortable in your job now, but health care is a volatile industry, and you have to keep your finger on the pulse of the profession by talking to others and picking their brains. If you lose your job and have a solid network upon which to lean, it will be that much easier to find new employment when you need it most.

Is there one social media platform that’s more effective for nurses to network than others?

It depends what you’re after, but I would say that LinkedIn is the go-to place for professional networking. That said, many nurses hang out on Twitter, as well, and there are plenty of ways to join the ongoing digital conversation about our profession.

Any tips for nurses who belong to a professional association to maximize their networking opportunities there?

Have your own business card to hand out to anyone you meet and connect with. Attend meetings, volunteer for various activities or positions and make yourself visible in the association. When you make yourself visible and put yourself out there, people recognize your energy and enthusiasm, and they’ll want to connect with you. Be authentic!

Any networking tips for nurses who are introverted?

Start online, and build your confidence. And when you connect with someone online — perhaps on LinkedIn — move that conversation to Skype or phone in order to deepen the connection. As you become more comfortable with these sorts of interactions, face-to-face networking should become less scary. I also recommend finding a franchise of the Referral Institute in your area. They have classes on networking, personality traits and styles, as well as a class on networking for introverts.

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