by Cedric L. Truss, DHA, MSHI, CPHIMS; Chair and Clinical Associate Professor, Health Sciences, Byrdine F. Lewis College of Nursing and Health Professions, Georgia State University; a HIMSS Individual Organizational Affiliate; HIMSS Professional Development Committee
The COVID-19 pandemic required us all to adapt our methods of interacting with one another through the use of technology. As professionals, we all had to get comfortable with using different forms of collaborative tools to continue our daily activities within our new work environments. The opportunities for in-person meetups, networking events and large gatherings were not just limited, but impossible for many to participate in due to numerous changes in their personal lives from the impact of the pandemic. As we continue to move forward with shifting back to pre-pandemic levels of gatherings, we should all plan to continue using digital tools for networking opportunities.
As many of us know, networking is a major part of the success of our careers. According to an article from Forbes, networking is not only about trading information, but also serves as an avenue to create long-term relationships with mutual benefits, and it should be an essential aspect if you truly want to build your career. Although some of us are unable to attend large networking events, there are still multiple ways we can connect and network with other individuals—whether that be in a one-on-one virtual setting, or in small group settings.
A major networking platform, LinkedIn, is a professional network with more than 830 million members in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. This platform is a tool that allows individuals to connect with other individuals that are within the same industry, or other industries, to grow and develop their professional network. Although this is a digital tool, it requires you to be active through your phone or other web-enabled devices and will allow you the opportunity to easily meet other professionals and schedule virtual introductory sessions.
For those that are new to networking, Handshake, offers a few questions to assist you in getting started with building career connections. In addition, there are a few other steps that can prepare you to network, whether you are in person or using online platforms:
According to an article from Indeed, career advancement is the process by which professionals across industries use their skill sets and determination to achieve new career goals and more challenging job opportunities. The article also provides several reasons as to why career advancement is important for individuals that can lead to rewarding careers. For the emerging professionals, or individuals that are transitioning careers, it is a great idea to utilize networking to develop formal mentoring relationships that can assist with guiding your career. In general, networking will allow you to create a relationship that will allow you to grow as an individual personally and professionally. Networking can provide many potential opportunities that can help an individual’s career advancement. From invitations to join organizational advisory boards, to options to participate in speaking engagements, or new employment opportunities the potential from networking, when done right, will offer growth for the career path you have created for yourself. As you are networking with other professionals, be sure that you are setting SMART goals for these relationships. Use digital tools to assist you with staying on target with the goals that you have developed. Be sure that every interaction is mutually beneficial to each of your professional connections that are developed through the various networking efforts you have accomplished.
As you continue to progress in your career over the next few years, networking as a professional should be part of your plan. Be open to working with individuals of different races, genders, and occupations. As organizations are boosting their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts among their workforces, having a diverse network will prepare you to work with these diverse teams. Working to establish a strategy now will help you get started on the optimal path for advancing your career. Plan to be intentional on why a relationship through networking is important to you and be open to gaining mentors along the journey. Whether you are meeting virtually or in-person, always be professionally dressed and lead the conversation with acknowledging the individual, their time, and thanking them for the opportunity for the connection. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to build a massive network too quickly. Take your time and provide value to those that you are networking with!