It’s a given that experience, expertise, soft skills and leadership competencies are all critical tools you’ll need as you move into positions of greater responsibility and advance your career. And yet, there is one frequently overlooked tool which can provide you with a wealth education, opportunities and support, right at your fingertips -- your professional network.
When your calendar is packed, it can be difficult to dedicate time to focus on developing your network. However, the benefits of a strong professional network can impact your career at every stage, providing you with surprising opportunities. Through networking, many healthcare executives find mentors, keep ahead of industry trends, gain access to additional resources, and build connections with potential future employers.
To evaluate the strength of your own network, look at who your current connections are and what role they play in the industry. It’s important to foster relationships with a well-rounded group of professionals, including establishing meaningful connections with peers, senior healthcare leaders, thought leaders from other industries, subject matter experts and industry educators, to name a few.
Four tips to boosting your network connections for success:
Identify where the experts are.
No matter your area of expertise, opportunities for networking abound, both in person and online. To narrow your focus and ensure you are meeting the right leaders, learn more about the professional groups where your target contacts are members; identify the continuing education programs they attend; and research the leadership trainings they recommend. Once you’ve learned more about the places where your ideal network connections are likely to be, you can plan to attend or join yourself.
The purpose behind networking is to build relationships that will support your career in a meaningful way. Most executives, in any field, can tell when a potential contact is approaching them for selfish reasons; identify mutually beneficial reasons to connect and offer those to your network as often as you can. There are strong benefits in a relationship where both parties are providing value; look to connect with people who can help you grow and learn, but also look for ways to mentor and guide those who may want to follow in your footsteps.
Follow through and follow up.
As an executive in the healthcare industry, there are frequent opportunities for professional networking. However, many leaders take these opportunities and then allow the next step to pass them by. After making a new connection, follow-up with an email, a phone message or a social media connection. For those you meet at networking events, make a point to provide your information, so other parties can follow-up with you as well. If you have conversations in which you make an offer of help or support, or ask for more information, follow through with the details and connect via email or phone to set up a second conversation.
Be open to new opportunities.
Establish yourself and your own expertise in order to build your reputation as someone sought after for professional networking. Submit yourself for speaking and publication opportunities and include your contact information. Maintain a professional online presence on networking sites, and regularly submit requests for new connections.
As part of building a well-rounded a professional network, you must connect with industry experts across the spectrum. No matter your area of expertise, learning from leading human resources, financial, operational, clinical and administrative executives will help you grow – and your career with you.
The experts with Cejka Search bring years of industry experience in networking and placing leaders across the healthcare spectrum. To connect with our experts, click here.