We all know how important networking is to our career growth. And it’s tempting to think throwing up a profile page on LinkedIn is all it takes. But think about how much time you spend perusing LinkedIn each week vs. how much time you spend interacting with real people. Unless you’re one of those “need to get a life” types, the answer is probably 10% or less.
Real networking — the kind that makes a lasting impression on the person you’re trying to network with — happens the old fashioned way, face-to-face or at least phone-to-phone. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your offline networking opportunities:
Attend a conference: There is no better way to meet and greet people in the profession than at a state society conference or, even better, the AARC Congress. Folks who attend these educational events are more likely to be leaders in the field and they’ve all gathered together to talk respiratory care with old and new friends alike. In fact, many will be actively seeking out new people to add to their own networks, and your presence at the meeting automatically places you in the running.
Remember your classmates: Networking begins in college, and some RT programs even host annual reunions. Attend these events — or gather a few folks your graduating class and organize one for your school if it doesn’t already exist. They are a great way for therapists who all went through the same program to keep in touch and share professional news and information.
Conduct an interview: If you’re looking to gain the ear of a well-known member of the profession in your area, ask for a formal interview for a blog you’d like to write about X, Y, or Z. Be prepared with some thought-provoking questions about the topic, and a tape recorder to ensure you have a record of the conversation. Then write up the blog as promised and send her a link to it. (Hint: any AARC member can publish a blog on AARConnect.) You’ll make a big impression on a leader in the profession who could help further your career.
Don’t neglect your “immediate family”: We don’t usually think of the people we work with every day as being a part of our professional networks, but certainly they are some of the most important people in them. So take advantage of the opportunities that arise to build solid relationships with the people in your department who you believe have the potential to impact your career. That can be anything from hanging around for a few minutes after an inservice to ask additional questions about the topic of the day, to volunteering to help out with the upcoming health fair at the mall, to speaking up during daily rounds with the pulmonologist.