Close Up Photography of Yellow Green Red and Brown Plastic Cones on White Lined Surface
| |

Networking 101

Networking 101 by Kayla Bassett, PA-C

Close Up Photography of Yellow Green Red and Brown Plastic Cones on White Lined Surface

We’ve all heard it before: “it’s not about what you know, its about who you know”. The power of networking is something we all generally accept and have used to our advantage before. When put into practice, we can get where we want to go quicker, and doors readily open for us that we couldn’t have opened ourselves. But what does it mean to be a networker, and how can we put this into daily practice?

In today’s interconnected world, networking is more than just a buzzword; it’s a fundamental skill necessary for personal and professional growth. It’s about forming meaningful connections, nurturing relationships, and leveraging those connections to achieve mutual success. Whether you’re seeking career opportunities, looking for mentors, or simply expanding your social circle, effective networking can be the key to unlocking countless possibilities. But networking isn’t just about connecting on LinkedIn; it’s about building genuine rapport and adding value to each interaction. By understanding and embracing the art of networking, you can harness its potential to propel you forward in both your personal and professional life.

Networking, simply put, is sharing your story with others. Being open to being vulnerable is a part of the process, because typically we are sharing our hopes and dreams in the making. Whomever is listening is likely to offer suggestions and shared experiences, because it’s natural for us as humans to try to relate to one another. This happens by sharing events, contacts, and opportunities that may be of interest to the other. 

Talk to everybody

I know, it’s scary, but you’ve got to start somewhere. Sure, only keeping your social boundaries to those people you are “supposed to” talk to (like your preceptor, coworkers, patients, etc.) can be a good place to start. You are likely to find another natural networker in this web of people who can help you to get where you want to go. However, I’ve found that the real magic happens 1 to 2 degrees from your innate circle. It’s your patient’s wife, the PA in another department, your friend’s mom, or the CRNA who doesn’t do your cases. Talk. to. Them. What’s the worst that can happen?

When you become a natural networker, you realize that the consequences of not networking are greater than your fear of talking to others. Remember, every conversation is an opportunity, and every person you meet has the potential to open a door you never even knew existed.

Be kind 

Growing up, we had a printed-out picture just adjacent to the kitchen light switch that read: “the first rule in life is to be kind, the second is to be kind, and the third is to be kind”. People are not willing to help people who don’t treat others kindly. Ultimately, if this person goes out of their way to connect you to someone, you are now a representative of them and their character.

Besides, why wouldn’t you be? Kindness not only makes the networking process smoother but also leaves a lasting positive impression, making others more inclined to assist you in the future.

Networking for others

You’re probably already doing it, whether you are aware of it or not. As mentioned before, our natural instinct is to relate to others. Congrats! You’ve been a networker all along. 

Most of us in healthcare have a service-oriented heart, so this comes naturally. We want to help others and see them achieve. We want to connect good people to good people. When you offer a connection to others, be quick to act on it. Yes, you will forget! Set an alarm to remind you to act on it. Create a group text or CC someone in on an email. Then, the ball is in their court. Remember, being a connector creates a positive ripple effect for everyone involved.

Follow up on conversations

Here is where connections go to die: dropping the ball on follow-up. You cannot expect anyone to do the heavy lifting but you. They are going back to their busy lives, raising kids, working their jobs, and trying to manage all of the normal human stresses. Helping you is not a priority, unless you continue to reach out. This could mean a 15-minute phone call to pick their brain further, or an email thread, but I am the biggest fan of finding time to get coffee together. This gives you a chance to really present yourself as you from head to toe, and show them who you are in a relaxed environment. Bring your resume for them to review or pass along. Have 3-4 questions prepared to ask them. Buy a pastry to share. Feel schmoozy? Reframe that perspective. Remember, consistent and genuine follow-up not only keeps the connection alive but also demonstrates your commitment and professionalism, setting the stage for collaborations and opportunities in the future.

By embracing the principles of networking – being open, kind, and proactive – you can unlock a world of opportunities and connections that can re-define your personal and professional trajectory. Remember, networking is not a one-time event but a lifelong skill that requires patience, persistence, and authenticity. So, whether you’re attending an event, reaching out to a new contact, or simply engaging in conversation with someone new, approach each interaction with curiosity, empathy, and a willingness to learn. Who knows? The next person you meet could be the key to unlocking your next big opportunity. So, go ahead, step out of your comfort zone, and start networking with purpose and passion. Your future self will thank you for it.

Kayla is an Urgent Care + Emergency Medicine PA who is passionate about financial literacy and empowering others to invest in themselves beyond just finances. She is a real estate investor, adventurer, and aspiring digital nomad. You can find her on socials at @theinvestorpa.