Stay in TouchThe experience of working with someone doesn’t need to end when you leave the practice. One of the easiest ways to network is to make an effort to keep in touch with your colleagues from school, previous employers, or residency positions. While you might not have seen some of these physicians in a while, if you enjoyed working together then there’s no better excuse to catch up. Send them an email, message them on social networking sites like LinkedIn, or connect over the phone. They will likely be happy to hear from you, and making the connection lends itself naturally to talking about what both of you are up to professionally.
Make the EffortNot only is it important to maintain relationships after working with someone, it’s also important to make the relationship something worth remembering in the first place! Even if you’re not the most social person, small gestures - like holding the door, remembering someone’s name, or saying good morning - are easy ways to show kindness. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but in your own practice you’re likely going to refer to a physician you like and feel comfortable with - so you can assume other physicians will do the same.
Attend or Organize EventsBusy physicians and social introverts might be tempted to skip opportunities to meet other doctors, but attending conferences, golf tournaments, or holiday parties are all great networking opportunities, and showing up even for a short amount of time is a worthwhile investment in your professional network. You could also think outside of the box - forming a book club, playing a recreational sport, or planning another fun activity is another great way to bring people together, and having shared interests makes conversation flow easier.
Get a HobbySometimes it’s necessary to spend most of your time in the office, but when it comes time for networking for doctors, it could also mean you won’t have a lot to talk to other doctors about. What are you interested in? What are you looking forward to? What makes you interesting to talk to? Many physicians enjoy the same type of leisure activities, including biking, jogging, playing instruments, or gardening, so keep an open mind - even something as simple as biking to work every day can make for good conversation. Travel is another popular topic; don’t be afraid to ask other physicians if they’ve done any great trips lately, or offer some advice on places you’ve visited yourself - and with nearly 50% of doctors interested in gourmet cooking, it doesn’t hurt to share your top spots to eat!
Ask QuestionsIf being the one to initiate conversation at networking events scares you, don’t worry - asking questions about other people’s specialty, interests, or career path can take the pressure off of you and give you time to think about what you want to say, as well as breaks the ice and gets the other person talking. Not only that, but you can gain valuable professional information - finding out what opportunities or career paths others are taking might give you some ideas for yourself. Just be sure to listen to their answers carefully, and ask follow up questions to show you’re engaged in the conversation!
Tell a Great StoryPeople love hearing personal stories - and doctors have more exciting stories in their repertoire than most! Rather than talking about some of your drier accomplishments when asked about yourself, think about something you’ve done recently or something interesting that happened to you. This can not only break the ice, but help make you memorable - which will come in handy if you need to use the connection later on for referrals or job openings.
Be YourselfChances are you picked being a doctor because it was a good fit for your personality - and chances are, the rest of the doctors in the room did the same thing! Although every physician is different, the combination of passion and work ethic required to get where you are is something you all have in common. So don’t worry about trying to stand out or fit in: being yourself is the best way to connect with colleagues, especially if you’re passionate about what you do.
Stay (Mostly) SoberLimiting your drinks at social events is not only good for your health, it’s also good for your reputation - getting too drunk could end up being embarrassing or put off other physicians. No matter how boring the event might be, or how much fun it might be to have a few too many, drinking and networking isn’t a good mix. After all, you don’t want to be remembered as ‘that doctor’!
Branch OutAlthough many people feel comfortable sticking around their existing colleagues at events such as holiday parties or golf trips, the point of these events is to meet new people. Even if it’s something as small as talking to someone in the buffet line, inviting someone new to sit at your table at breakfast, or making small talk while you’re in an elevator, it’s worthwhile to branch out.
Set GoalsIf you’re having trouble getting to networking events or forcing yourself to mingle, you’re not alone: as opposed to other professions, doctors are rarely encouraged or required to network for success in medical school or residency. To beat the temptation to duck out early, set yourself goals for the evening such as ‘I will collect 10 business cards’ or ‘I will add 5 new people to my LinkedIn’. Goals are satisfying to tick off at the end of the night, and give you incentive to stay engaged.
ConclusionEven if you’re not the biggest social butterfly, networking for doctors is a great opportunity to connect professionally but also to meet like minded people and connect around your shared passion for medicine. Talking to other healthcare professionals should be fun - and the opportunity to chat can bring you not only referrals and job opportunities, but also options for mentorship, advice on different career paths, and ways to expand your practice.
This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.
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