Women In Medicine: Re-shape Your Conceptions Around NetworkingMar 03, 2022
For women, networking is like kids eating vegetables. It’s not something we want, but it’s something we need. Over the years when I’ve talked to fellow women in medicine about networking, I’ve learned that many shy away from it because they feel uncomfortable asking something from others. We need to re-frame this thinking into viewing our networks as mutually beneficial relationships.
One of the most important activities in growing your medical career is growing relationships. Many people think they can go to networking events, hand their cards out and the connections will come flowing in. It may happen like that, but not likely. It takes time, energy and effort to build a network.
First, I want to start with why networking is important so that you can better understand why the above scenario will never give you the results you are looking for.
I’ve found that one of the main keys to self-improvement and motivation for women in medicine is INSPIRATION.
Inspiration is critical to staying motivated and improving oneself. If you are not interested in your field or the people you surround yourself with, your motivation level will never be high and you will not be able to sustain interest for very long. Take an honest look at your inspiration level. Are you excited about going to work or is it an obligation? If you view work as an obligation you will quickly grow weary and uninterested because there is no inspiration or passion to sustain you during difficult times.
Now think, is there anyone at your work or in your life (does not have to be another physician) who inspires you? Finding a support system that will keep you motivated by constantly challenging the way you see the world around you is key to success. (Side note: you can also boost your own inspiration by inspiring someone who has not yet acquired your level of experience or knowledge.) This is why good networking is crucial.
Here are traits to look for in your networking circle:
1. Someone who inspires you. This will help re-energize you when the burdens of work become too much and help you stay motivated towards your own self-improvement.
2. Someone who is incredibly curious and eager to learn. They study, ask questions and read – constantly! A smart, successful person is not one who just memorizes facts, but is able to take information and create, build, or apply it in new and important ways. Successful people want to learn everything about everything and that is who you want to surround yourself with.
3. They network. They know lots of people, and they know lots of different kinds of people. They listen to friends, neighbors, co-workers and bartenders. They don’t have to be "the life of the party", in fact many are quiet, even shy, but they value people and they value relationships. Successful people have a rolodex full of people who value their friendship and return their calls. Aligning yourself with this type of person will no doubt benefit you down the road.
4. You know, like, and trust this person. As your life changes, your connections grow and change. Focus on connections that are based on pre-existing, long-term, deep relationships. They help you maintain a consistent source of support and stability, regardless of where you are or how your lives change.
Networking isn't just for people who run their own businesses. Physicians are looking to diversify beyond just seeing patients and one of the best ways to do that is through networking.
All of us have a network of people we depend on. We might use their services, get referrals from them and ask for assistance when seeking a job. This is called cross-pollinating, and we all do it. It is vitally important that we build relationships with the people in our network so that we can obtain good tips and advice. If you neglect your network you might find yourself without resources or references when you most need them.
If you are one of the women I talked about in the beginning of this post who feels uncomfortable with the concept of networking, focus on how you can help your network before you consider taking from it. The best way to grow in your career is to help someone else build hers. Givers get. You don't just take from your network; you also give to it. The secret is the more you give to your network the more you will get back.
My last thought to share with you today on the topic of networking is how the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us the power of virtual networking. The power of networking does not come from in-person meetings, it comes from taking the time build and nurture relationships. This is why Dr. Andrea Austin and I founded the Revitalize Women Physician Circle and created The Revitalize Room.
The Revitalize Room is a free, monthly, virtual get-together for women in medicine to connect and grow together. To stay up-to-date on when exactly these meetings are happening and what our topic is that month subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn!