Why Does Networking Matter?
The old saying "it's not WHAT you know, but WHO you know" has been around a long time in relation to finding a new job. Over the years, networking consistently remains the number one way to find and land a job.
Having an inside or personal connection has always been a huge advantage to a job seeker and that is not likely to change. Of course in our profession WHAT you know is important too, but simply having the skills isn't always enough to get your foot in the door.
Right now there are plenty of jobs out there, but you shouldn't let yourself be lulled into believing jobs are easy to land. In fact, in our current market the competition for each NP and PA position is quite strong and each job posted will attract dozens of applicants. To increase your chance of success, a personal referral can help you to stand out from the crowd of applicants.
Why does networking matter? Employers have begun to mistrust the reference process. Laws prevent employers from disclosing truly helpful information about former employees. Job seekers also choose only references that they are confident will say positive things about their performance. That leaves potential employers with a rather biased sample with which to base their hiring decisions.
Everyone is on their best behavior during an interview so getting a real sense of the candidate's personality and how they might mesh with the current workplace culture is also tricky. I know a number of...umm... difficult personalities that initially present as quite amiable. Networking, while not perfect, does help to fill in the knowledge gaps.
Networking as a concept hasn't changed, but how we go about it is rapidly evolving. Networking in the good old days meant going to conferences or joining a professional organization. It meant staying in touch with former classmates and coworkers. In general it was a much longer process that one couldn't start just a few weeks before looking for a job. Those same methods are still sound strategies today so if that is what you have been doing I wouldn't advise that you stop. I would, however, advise that you add a digital component to your networking plan.
Social media is the new networking tool and the great equalizer. You don't have to be limited to forging relationships with only people you have met in person. You can meet and connect online with employers and clinicians all over the country.
Every platform, whether it's LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter will allow you to reach out to others in your profession. Traditional mediums such as discussion boards still exist too. Join them all. But to be successful at digital networking you need to know it isn't enough just to sign up, you need to be engaged.
Lurking is not networking. You must be an active participant. That means posting comments and joining in the conversation. If you don't have a comment then ask a question. This is the "new networking" and the best way to find your next job.