We have heard it said that “no man is an island,” and that is true for all of us. An effective support system is necessary for us to excel in our life nursing career goals. These support systems may include friends, family, loved ones and co-workers. I had the opportunity to hear a wonderful speaker who grew up with parents who were FBI agents. He changed his identity and moved several times as he was growing up, and he spoke of one of the most important lessons he learned from his parents: your network keeps you safe. He then went on to do an insightful presentation about the value of networking.
Some of the most important networks which we find ourselves a part of are our social networks, family networks and professional networks. Social networks include our friends, those we meet in classroom settings, people we like to spend time with and those we engage in social media. Our family network includes all of our family members and extended family. Lastly, our professional network includes colleagues at work. Even more valuable though, is the professional nursing network you build beyond your work experience. Especially with the volatility in healthcare, the professional network can be vital to your career success. Your nursing community can serve you in three important ways: support, promotion and saving your life.
Support may be evident throughout the course of your work day. This may include help from your nursing colleagues, a shoulder to cry on, or professional training or advice. Support can also be garnished from mentors and those outside of your work environment. Your network can also provide a vehicle for you to promote into roles you aspire to by helping to publicize your value to others and provide references for you.
Lastly, your network can save you. It was my experience this past fall, after 35 years of healthcare administration, that I unexpectedly lost my job as Vice President, Chief Nursing Officer of a very large hospital due to a downsizing exercise. Devastated and lost, it was my network that saved me by providing strong emotional support system but also helping to advertise my availability and provide the references to help me land my next career move.
It is never too early to begin to develop your network. Here are some tips to get you started and to build your list of credible people in your network.
In regards to your network, every person you meet can be a valuable contact and asset to your nursing career. So get started and get connected! Your network keeps you safe.