Professional Networking for Nurses

Networking is one of the most effective ways to advance your career, but the opportunities that present themselves through networking don't end there. For nurses networking enables them to get involved with other healthcare professionals in their field and become engaged. The face-to-face interaction achieved through networking allows nurses to meet other nursing and healthcare professionals that are encountering the same daily challenges, learn from them, get and give advice, share ideas and insights, and explore how the world of nursing is changing and evolving.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics over 70% of jobs are found through professional networking. The same holds true for career opportunities in nursing. The vast majority of career advancement opportunities in nursing come from building a strong professional network through membership and activity in professional associations and societies, attending industry and specialty specific conferences and providing volunteer and community outreach work.

Getting Started
If you're just getting started, we recommend joining and getting involved with your state or local nurses associations. Membership is important but engaging and interacting with the other association members and lending your time and expertise to the "cause" is what is going to get you noticed and really provide you an "in" with the professionals who can help you advance your career. Attending association meetingsalso keeps you up-to-date on current legislation, education practices and new advances in nursing practice and technology.

The American Nurses Association and its constituent and state nurses associations are a good place to start if you're interested in getting involved with a general nurses association in your area. There are also many opportunities to join specialty specific nursing organizations on state and local levels. Joining specialty specific associations will help you build your network and establish powerful connects that will help advance your career.

In most cases, nurses don't even need to look further than their own job to start networking. Working in a hospital? Join any committees made available through the hospital such as the product review and standardization committee, professional development council, patient education committee, nursing policy and procedure committee, image of nursing council committee, quality council, and nursing cabinet, to name just a few.

You Get What You Give
Once you join an association or committee, get involved and stay involved. Assume any leadership role or position of responsibility available and start reaching out and getting to know the other committee and council members. As an association or committee member, volunteer your time, your expertise, and your resources on a regular and consistent basis and you'll develop strong and loyal relationships with people and professionals that you'll be able to count on in the future.

And never forget, your network becomes exponentially more helpful and valuable to you as become more helpful and valuable your network. Interested in finding out about new job openings and promotion opportunities as they come available? Then make sure when you discover a new job opportunity, you share it with your network. Need a positive recommendation from your network? Then it would be wise to write one for them first.

Stay Connected
All too often, we spend a lot of time and resources developing a strong professional network, then we get wrapped up in life, fall out of contact with our network, and only attempt to reconnect with them when we need help. Professional networking works best when you stay in regular contact with your network–even if it's just the occassional hello. As a nurse, the most effective way of developing a professional network is to make sure build a network that consists of the professionals and contacts you'll associate with on a regular basis throughout your career.

Attend Conferences
Attending nursing conferences, sponsored by associations such as the National Nurses in Business Association, is an excellent way to add valuable contacts to your professional network. While networking with professionals from your work and local associations is valuable, conferences provide you the unique opportunity to rub shoulders with successful individuals who are further down the road you want to travel–and they're accessible. At most conferences, you can actually just walk up and talk to them.

However, you do want to be somewhat selective. It's best to attend those conferences that are in line with your interests, current profession and future career aspirations. Attend the right conferences, and we guarantee you'll see the value.

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