“Know where you want to go and make sure the right people know about it.” — Meredith Mahoney
Networking is one of the most effective ways to find that perfect job. Your academic accolades, performance evaluations in residency and fellowship are all secondary when compared with a strong network that can secure getting references for a job.
Knowing how to present yourself in an offline and an online scenario can ensure that you attract some of the best job opportunities. For some, the skill of networking comes easy while for others, it’s a muscle that needs constant work.
Despite the proven potential of this skill, there are still doctors who would rather see a patient, perform surgery, or read a medical paper than network with prospective employers and industry folks.
However, learning how to network effectively can prove to be one of the strongest tools doctors can use to get ahead in their medical careers. In this article, we look at:
- Simple tactics that you can use to build your network
- Strategies to form meaningful connections
10 Simple Tactics That You Can Use To Build Your Network
1. Attend Fellowship Or Residency Networking Events
If you’re looking for jobs in the same city or province where you did your former residency and fellowship program, then you could consider attending their get-togethers. These happen either locally or even across the country at national specialty conferences. Find out where these events are happening and attend them. You could check if they have a Facebook group or a website where they post about these events or if you know someone personally who’s a part of the program, then consider asking them about anything coming up.
This can be a great opportunity to reconnect with your former attendings and colleagues who may have personal connections with a potential employer and would be happy to make an introduction.
2. Connect With In-House Physician Recruiters
Many large practices, hospitals, and healthcare groups often hire in-house recruiters whose primary job is to find the top physician talent to serve their facility’s patients. Make a list of institutions where you want to work and find out if they have an in-house recruiter. Try sending them a connection request on LinkedIn and introduce yourself.
Share your CV with them and let them know that you’re open to opportunities. If there’s a specific job that’s been advertised, then let them know why you’d be a great fit for it. Here, having a great LinkedIn profile could help you stand out and make a positive impression.
3. Use Facebook Groups And Pages
Private doctor-only Facebook groups are an effective way to connect with other doctors both locally and nationally. There are a variety of groups such as local doctors in a particular city, specialty groups, residency alumni groups (here you could find events to attend), job groups, and more. Join them and actively interact with other members.
Another feature you could explore is Facebook pages. Often specific hospitals and healthcare institutions also have their own dedicated Facebook pages that they maintain regularly. Following these pages will help you get unique insights about their work culture which could be a great advantage in an interview.
While it’s preferred to network in person, making meaningful connections on social media can be pretty effective too.
4. Consider working as a locum
To expand your network and add to your experience, you could consider working as a locum. Through these short-term assignments, locum physicians get an opportunity to work in new cities, with new facilities, and get introduced to new teams of doctors, nurses, and administrators. A savvy physician can use this to their advantage to build a reputation of respect with each new assignment.
5. Make Friends With Pharmaceutical And Medical Device Representatives
Specialty-specific pharmaceutical and medical device representatives are one of the best sources when it comes to building a solid professional network. These people are often scouting hospitals and private practices that are specific to a specialty in order to make a sale.
This makes them privy to important information such as job openings (even before they’re officially announced). They can also offer an invaluable perspective on what the practice is like and the personality of the physicians, the workplace culture, and more that can help you ace the interview.
6. Connect With People On LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a fantastic platform to build and grow your professional network. While it may seem like a simple ‘comment’ or a ‘reaction’ on a post isn’t adding much value, in the larger scheme of things, it can help you get noticed.
If you’ve ever wondered what is a good reference for a job, then it’s people who believe that you have something valuable to offer and are willing to recommend you. Most users on LinkedIn pay attention and take note of the comments that they receive on their posts.
This is a great way for you to put your opinion forward and get involved. A meaningful comment can show that you have a genuine interest in their work which could create a positive and memorable association and help you in getting references for a job.
7. Ask Doctors You Know To Introduce You To Potential Employers
This is one of the most straightforward ways to network and land a great job. Find out who are the most respected and well-connected doctors in your area/city and ask them if they would be willing to introduce you to a potential employer.
You can start by reaching out to them and introducing yourself. Maybe ask them out for a coffee and tell them about your qualifications and experiences. Be clear about what you want and how you think they can help you achieve it.
There is a good chance that they’ll be happy to do it. However, when they do and if you do get the job, make sure you pay it forward by sending them a gift, giving them a shout out on social media, sending patient referrals, etc.
8. Consider Everyone You Meet As A Valuable Connection
Be it your friendly neighbour, your barista or a person you met in the metro–one of the best ways to grow your network is to consider everyone you meet as a valuable connection. Even if they’re not from the healthcare field, they could know someone and would be happy to refer you.
9. Consider Volunteering
As a medical professional, you may not have an abundance of free time, but you will find that volunteering for a local organization, especially one that is relevant to your specialty can be quite beneficial. For example, if you’re an Oncologist, you could volunteer for a breast cancer cause. Search in the local newspaper or online to find a medical facility or an NGO organization that’s looking for volunteers. Exchanging your expertise is a great way to expand your network.
10. Don’t Burn Bridges
Like most medical professionals, you’ll work in multiple different settings throughout your career. If you decide to leave an organization or refuse an offer from a practice, ensure you do it politely and walk away on good terms. Even if there’s a sour feeling, avoid addressing that and be gracious. Always keep in touch and maintain a line of communication. You never know when someone will be able to help you.
Strategies For Medical Professionals To Form Meaningful Connections
Finding out about an event or a conference is half the battle won. The actual work starts when you reach the venue and have to network. If you’re wondering what to do or say at an event that can make it easier for you to connect with people and help in getting references for a job, then these simple tips will help you make a memorable impression.
– Be interesting: Stay up-to-date with current events both inside and outside the medical field and do your homework by checking the agenda of the event and doing some research on the guests.
– Give respect to the host: Show your respect by RSVPing on time, arriving early, and overall being a dynamic and enthusiastic guest whose truly happy to be present.
– Turn awkward silences into conversations: Show interest in people and ask them open-ended questions that encourage them to tell you a story or talk more about their work.
– Invite others to join the conversation: Keep an open body language, wear a warm smile, and be ready to shake hands and introduce yourself. Another good tactic is to maintain eye contact.
– Address people by their name: Every time you meet someone new, use their name as soon as you can in the conversation. If you don’t remember someone’s name, politely ask them, I remember meeting you but I seem to have forgotten your name. Could you tell me what is it again?
– Consciously try to meet new people: Our tendency is to stick with people we know and talk to them. However, try getting out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to new people. This is one of the simplest tactics in the book to build a network. If you’re thinking, what is a good reference for a job, it’s people such as these who you interact with and leave a positive impression on.
– Have a plan on how to get away: Knowing how to excuse yourself from a conversation is equally important. For example, if you’re in a one-on-one conversation, listen to the person and when you get an opportunity, simply say, “that sounds like a great plan, Jasmin. Good luck with your paper. How about we go check out the buffet spread?”
“What is a good reference for a job?”–a question most physicians have to answer when in the middle of their job search. Cultivating a strong professional network can add tremendous value to physicians. The more people you meet, the more experiences you have and all this can translate into an abundance of new and unexpected job opportunities or interesting projects.