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Career Coach

Networking

Published August 21, 2013 2:48 PM by Renee Dahring
One of the most frequent questions I get when counseling job seekers is "How do I network? I don't think I really understand how to go about it." 

Networking sounds like one of those outdated buzzwords from the 1990s but I can assure you it is still relevant today. Why? For every one of you who will find your next job via a traditional job ad you should be aware that there are also a significant portion of NP and PA jobs that are NOT advertised and instead will be filled simply by word of mouth. And among those positions that are advertised, a significant number of applicants who are hired will get the job because he or she was personally referred for the position by someone who is currently working within the organization. This is why networking is important. 

Networking can happen in a number of ways. It all starts with meeting your colleagues.  One way is to get involved in your local professional organizations. I don't mean just join as a member, I mean actually get involved. Volunteer for a committee, run for an office -- just do something that facilitates interacting with your peers. 

Reconnect with former classmates. You might be surprised at what your old school chums are up to these days. In addition to catching up and rekindling an old friendship, you have the opportunity to connect on a colleague level now rather than as a fellow student. Don't forget to contact peers you worked with in your previous positions, too. 

Now, don't think I am telling you to contact these folks simply to ask for a job. No one likes to feel used. You don't meet someone then get a job referral the next day. Look at it more like an investment. Whether it is a longtime acquaintance or someone you just met at a conference, you need to take your time. 

Start off by learning as much about the other person as you can. It can't be just about you! People like to tell their stories. Ask them what they like about their position, what they dislike and if they have any advice for someone looking to get into the position. Talk about interesting or challenging cases.  Just talk.  

Networking is a slow growing process that doesn't bear fruit overnight. Start now. Connecting is satisfying and even if you don't end up with a job referral you will benefit by gaining a valuable resource: a mentor or a future friend. And who knows, maybe one day it might be you referring them for a job!    

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    Occupation: Nurse Practitioners and NP Recruiters
    Setting: correctional healthcare/career consulting/teaching
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