Authors

  1. Borger, Angela L.

Article Content

Isolation. Isolated. These are two frightening words, even if you aren't working in an infectious disease practice. I equate isolation with not having connections. One of the hallmarks of working in medical care is that I would guess that not many, if any, of us work in true isolation. I celebrate that we have a discipline that is patient centered and, likely, team based. Nurses and the nursing care we offer are often just one component in the larger picture of healthcare, whether that is for a community, an institution, a particular population, or a specific individual.

  
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Growing up, I learned any number of essential skills, like how to make friends, how to tie my shoes, and how to pump gas, as examples, but during that growing up time, I never knew I would need, no want, to learn how to network or that it would be such a vital part of my career. In fact, looking back, I am sure it's not something anyone ever outright told me was important, and I am equally sure that, even had someone told me, the advice would have frightened me more than anything. Remember, I am sure I have shared with you what a strong introvert I once was. The idea of comfortably talking to people such as patients and colleagues would have been an alien concept to me. So[horizontal ellipsis]fast forward 25 years, and here I am extolling the virtues and necessity of networking.

 

Networking has been essential to my development as a nurse and as a nurse practitioner, but it also has proven, time and time again, to be helpful in my personal life. So let's start by examining networking in general. Networking is about relationships. One of the key features of networking is the exchange of information and offers of helping. I think of how many times I use networking principles each week. Networking helps me with both patients and colleagues. For example, when a patient asks which "X" type of doctor I recommend, that patient is acknowledging that he or she trusts me and values my recommendation. It's much easier making those types of recommendations when I have networked with a variety of providers in my community. I think my personal knowledge gained through networking gives validity to those recommendations. What about when I know of a practice looking to hire and the office manager asks for my thoughts about an applicant? To be able to give firsthand information from past networking experiences is always better.

 

For those of you out there worried that I am asking you to put one more thing on the "to do" list, you have no reason for concern because the easy part about networking is that it can be as formal or informal of a process as you'd like. Consider this quote: "Developing your network is easy because you know more people than you think you know" (http://ischool.sjsu.edu/career-development/networking/what-networking.). I bet that you already have a large professional network in place. If your offices are like mine have been, I know you have scribbled or typed a list of your go-to referrals for your practice-the providers whom you like and send patients to on a regular basis.

 

I sat down and thought about my networking in nursing, in dermatology, and in Southern Maryland where I live as well as my networking done through social media. Because I moved to SoMD (as we call it) without knowing a single person, networking was really important for me, both professionally and personally. Professionally, I network through the many organizations I am a member of: my state nurse practitioner organization, the Maryland Academy of Advanced Practice Providers, the Dermatology Nurses' Association and its members, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and the Society of Otorhinolaryngology and Head-Neck Nurses. I also get to network with my nurse and nurse practitioner friends, the medical staff at my hospital, and all the allied health professionals I have the fortune of knowing. I make it a point to network with as many social workers, audiologists, nutritionists, dentists, psychologists, and physical therapists as I possibly can. Even if a patient will never need a referral, I never know when the networking will be personally beneficial!

 

Moreover, a really comfortable consideration is that, in addition to networking being a fluid process that can occur during natural interactions with others, it doesn't have to happen just in the context of work. I make it a point to network with a group I call "the people who care," the people I meet whom I get a good sense about. Fortunately, I am an optimist and get a good feeling about many people. I network with family, friends, friend's parents, people at my church, women in my book club, members of my Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter, my hairstylist, my tax preparation specialist, my weight lifting partner, and members of my investment group. Networking is about recognizing that we are all pieces in a larger picture and that, someday, we may need to know where the next piece of the puzzle is coming from.

 

So, can I convince you to start networking or strengthen your networking contacts if you have already started? I challenge you to make three new connections this week or reach out to three of your current contacts just to say "hello" and see how they are doing. I think that you, too, will find the richness of the friendships you have with your networking contacts to be a rewarding addition to your daily life. What have your experiences been with networking and the contacts in your network? What great story can you share with readers about how a networking contact benefitted you or your patient?

 

Looking forward to hearing from you,

 

Angela L. Borger

 

Editor in Chief

 

E-mail: alborger@aol.com

 

REFERENCE

 

San Jose State University. What is networking? Retrieved from http://ischool.sjsu.edu/career-development/networking/what-networking. Accessed September 13, 2016.