People are always talking about the value of professional networking. But there are still a lot of folks out there who scoff at the idea.
“Oh brother,” they’ll say. “How in the world is attending a state society meeting or going to a conference going to boost my career? Are they going to have my dream job just waiting for me? Sure, like that’s gonna happen.”
According to Alicia Wafer, MBA, RRT, you might just be surprised.
It starts with a conversation
“I feel networking is so very important in life and in respiratory therapy, whether you’re like me who never met a stranger or a quieter, shy type individual,” said the Michigan therapist.
She believes too many people just sit back and wait for good things to come to them. Unfortunately, the passive approach rarely pays off.
“Sure, it’s easier. but I would argue that it is too risky to live this way,” she said. “I have, in my career, been able to be involved in many really cool things, all of which started with a conversation with someone I knew in the field — aka networked with. When an opportunity became available, they could say or I could say, ‘hey, I know an RT who does that or is interested in that and could help.’”
What are some of those really cool things? Wafer offers these three great examples from her own experience —
- She found out about her current job as director of respiratory therapy at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit just as the position was opening up during a conversation she had with an established relationship.
- Thanks to her involvement in her state society, she was appointed as the “stand in” AARC delegate from Michigan a few years ago after the current delegate had to step down from the job.
- She once changed organizations to help develop a NICU and was able to bring several colleagues who she regularly networked with along with her to help get the job done.
So, the next time someone mentions the importance of networking, consider how the contacts you foster with colleagues today could translate to career opportunities tomorrow.
Alicia Wafer has five tips you can use to improve your networking skills —
- First, you have to show up. The AARC offers meet and greets at the conferences, and most state societies do so as well.
- Most important is to be authentic. Introduce yourself, offer your hand; it just takes a moment.
- If you’re looking for a mentor let them know. Maybe you could be a mentor, or start or get involved in a mentor program.
- If you are looking to make a connection, do so.
- It starts by putting yourself out there.
Not ready for face-to-face networking just yet? No worries! Join some groups of interest on AARConnect and get started there!