Networking is All About Sharing

Every day I answer one question… and here’s the answer, no, there are no recruiters seeking to fill nonclinical jobs from among the ranks of practicing physicians. What this means is your avenue to your next career step is most likely going to be a result of good networking rather than online applications and recruiter calls. That’s not to say those avenues you’re accustomed to don’t or can’t happen, but simply that’s not where the odds are in your favor.

So, what is good networking? Most of my clients are a bit put off by the idea of networking… going out there and selling ones self. After all, doesn’t this mean attending useless meeting with people you don’t really want to speak to and having to listen to those people go on about some drivel of absolutely no interest to you?

Well, it that’s your networking experience, then, yes, it was a painful waste of time. And anyone who suggests this will help you in some way is a bit off base.

Networking isn’t about going out and begging strangers for a job.

Networking is sharing. Sharing means giving and taking. Good networking means you’re helping people as much as they are helping you. Often, the challenge is that physicians mistakenly believe that outside of clinical or medical knowledge and advice, they have little to offer others. That’s not true. Your daily interactions with staff, patients, administrators and colleagues all go to a wealth or practical knowledge that is the driver of most nonclinical jobs. That right, it’s not the MBA or the JD that drives quality decision making, but rather real life experience, solving problems, managing complex issues, seeking answers… helping others be better. And aren’t all those qualities integral to the good practice of medicine? I think so, too.

So, when it comes to good networking these are the critical factors for success – learning to be good at sharing:

      • Find people, topics and events that are interesting and of interest.
      • Ask questions. It’s just like asking a colleague how she arrived at a complex diagnosis: why and how…. You’ll start many conversations with those simple words.
      • Don’t be afraid to offer your opinion. Just don’t be afraid to be wrong! This isn’t medicine and no one will die if you say or do the wrong thing. Learn from mistakes, don’t fear them.
      • Don’t ask for a job, and don’t ask if they know who is hiring. If someone believes you can help them or someone they know, they will offer you a job.
      • Ask if you can help. Ask if your opinion might be useful.
      • Ask about others who may be doing what you want to do. The currency of good networking is more networking, that is, being introduced to others. That means people see you as having value and it increases their value by introducing you to people they know.
      • Follow up. If people help you, don’t just thank them, but tell them how they helped you. If a patient tells you how what you did or said helped them, it’s helpful to you and enables you to help them more. It’s the same with networking

This is neither an exhaustive nor a comprehensive look at networking, but rather a set of truisms and axioms that come from experience. There will always be more to learn and say, and additional articles are on my web, and other blogs and publications I write for.