The Many Benefits of Networking
I have always recommended "networking" as a great tool for employment. On a job search level, networking remains the No. 1 method for finding a new job. If you have ever wondered why you don't see certain highly desirable jobs posted, it's because they literally don't need to post these positions. Today, many employers simply put the word out internally and then sit back and wait for the referrals to come to them. Who better to hire for a position than someone who has been recommended by a current employee? When a current employee recommends a colleague, his or her recommendation can carry a great deal of weight. Why do you think so many organizations offer referral bonuses? I always liked personal recommendations when I was hiring because it was almost like having the clinician's reference upfront rather than after an application.
Finding a job opening is one reason to network, but you may not have considered that networking can also make you a better clinician. You don't need to wait for a conference to interact with other healthcare providers; the opportunity is present every day. We all have different clinical settings and areas of expertise, so cultivating connections outside of your coworkers can do wonders for expanding your own knowledge base and making you more marketable.
For example, how often do you call your community or state health departments? They are a wealth of information on communicable diseases, both common and uncommon. They can tell you not only how to treat but also provide information on current trends as well as local outbreak information and community resources for your patients. In the past month, I personally have spoken to experts on whooping cough and TB. My practice has been enhanced (I learned that INH toxicity should be reported to the CDC) and I have made a great personal connection.
Are you working with a patient who also sees a specialty provider or vice versa? A simple phone call to the other provider is so much more effective than reading medical records. I know it's hard to find the time, but I have always found it worth the effort. Both you and your patient will benefit.
And don't limit yourself to networking within your discipline alone. Getting to know MDs, PAs, NPs, RNs and other healthcare professionals such as PTs and OTs is also a great career move. These folks are also privy to job openings and should be part of your "network," too.