What is networking? Networking is not a simple exchange of a business card or asking help from people you barely know. Networking is building relationships on the basis of trust; this involves getting to know an individual and a give-and-take relationship.
Why network? We network because relationships are a priceless commodity. When given a choice, people will always prioritize recommendations by a valued and trusted individual in their network. Also, it gives you a chance to seek new people to serve as mentors and make new friends.
It’s never too early to start networking. You should always use every opportunity to get to know those around you. For example, during your first summer off, if you spend time in the hospital shadowing or researching, get to know the physicians in that department. They may introduce to you new opportunities in an interest group or even arrange for a meet-and-greet with a key faculty member, such as the program director or the chair.
How do you go about developing a professional network? First and foremost, it requires you leaving your study hole every now and then. Check your school email often. More times than not, you’ll find an email inviting you to an interest group meeting or even a state medical meeting. Take advantage of these opportunities to take a study break and network with professionals around you. It’s a much smaller world than you think.
Now for some do’s and don’ts of networking.
Do: have a set goal; be confident; ask for advice; say thank you often; smile; make a good first impression; follow-up.
Don’t: wait to network; be a wallflower; be afraid to ask questions; post inappropriate things on social media.
Want more tips and tricks on how to network? Stay tuned for part two of this series.