As a nurse, you know that it is impossible to do everything by yourself. The daily demands of nursing are simply too much for a lone wolf to accomplish. A good support system is critical for nurses to be able to continue their work every day without feeling drained of energy and time. Professionals call these systems networks.
Networks can be social, including friends and acquaintances, online and off. These types of networks are useful for bolstering self-esteem and getting help with aspects of personal life. Professional networks, however, are what help nurses become better in their careers. A good network will include nursing colleagues, managers, even the hospital director or other members of staff in different departments. Like a social network, the professional network should include people who have your best interest at heart and are willing to support you in times of need.
If you want to grow your professional nursing network and experience a boost in career growth, keep reading for the best tips we’ve found.
- Get Organized
When you begin networking, you will want to make sure you have a place for all of the contact information that you’ll get. As you meet people, you’ll need to store their information somewhere safe. A three-ring binder is a good option. You can tape business cards to a sheet of paper and fill in any other information next to it. You could also use a ready-made address book, but these don’t often include space for business cards.
- Keep in Contact
In nursing school, you will work with several professional nurses, instructors, and students. As you go through your schooling, save contact details for everyone that you think are successful in their work life. Make sure to save names, email addresses, phone numbers, and some personal information like how you know them or what their connection to you was.
- Find a Mentor
Mentors can be a wonderful addition to your nursing career. They will be able to offer you support when you need it. With their wealth of knowledge, you’ll learn much more than if you were just going about your day doing your job. Keep all their contact information and check in once in a while. They may also have other nurses or health professionals that they could recommend to you for further mentoring or support.
- Get Online
Creating a LinkedIn account will give you an excellent professional online presence. Make sure to include all the necessary information that will attract like-minded professionals to your network. You might be surprised how many contacts you can make just by having an updated presence on the site.
You can also consider adding colleagues to your social media accounts, especially if you tend to post nursing-related items. Make sure that your accounts aren’t too casual, though; your high school friends may not be as entertaining to potential professional network members as they are to you.
- Go to Conferences.
Conferences are probably the best places to do some networking. Go to conferences as often as you realistically can. Go in with the mindset of meeting people and prepare yourself for small-talk and handshakes. Have business cards made for yourself and be generous with passing them out. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t in a managerial role; as a practicing nurse, business cards are important. When you meet people, don’t forget to ask for their cards also. Later in the evening, make a point to email the people you met and let them know you would like to keep in touch. If you have a professional goal or interest in common, let them know you would like to continue discussing that.
- Network Outside the Box
Nurses and those in the medical field are great people to add to your professional network. Keep in mind, however, that people in very different fields are also worthwhile members of your network. Diversify your contacts by meeting people in other realms of work: politics, education, social services – you never know when someone will need your expertise, or when you might want to branch out into other areas of nursing.
Creating a professional network is easier than it sounds as long as you are willing to put in some effort and meet other people. As long as you are willing to give as much as you get, you will have a great network in no time, and you’ll see an incredible growth in your career.