Professional Networking in Nursing

Professional networking for nurses means making connections with people who can help advance your career. Networks are ways to share information, experience, and resources. They are important because you never know when somebody in an unrelated field might share a job posting or article that helps you land your next job. Networking can help launch a career while enabling you to grow both professionally and personally.

Whether you're making friends at work, attending conferences, or interacting with others in social media, networking exists in many forms. Learning some of the basics helps you build stronger networks and benefits you and those in your network. Networking is especially important in a competitive field such as nursing. Knowing someone in a particular hospital or specific subfield can be the key to landing a job, promotion, or spot in a graduate program.

Use the following guide to improve your own professional network and networking skills.

How Do You Network in Nursing?

Different Types of Professional Networks in Nursing

Nurses can use three networking types. Operational networks consist of colleagues, superiors, peers, and subordinates. These people directly impact a nurse's work. Personal networks consist of people outside of work, such as fellow alumnus or personal interest communities, who can provide external viewpoints. Strategic networks consist of people outside the direct workplace of a given nurse, but who are related, such as people in other areas of hospital employment.

All of these networking models benefit nurses looking to advance their careers. Using networking to land a job in nursing will most likely draw on personal networks unless you are already a practicing nurse, in which case the other models can help you land promotions, raises, or better jobs.

Networking Events in Nursing

Networking in nursing school can be a big help in launching your career. Seize opportunities to meet professionals at lectures or job fairs. Conferences are especially useful, since you can generally meet many people in a short time. Social events such as mixers or departmental gatherings provide facetime with people you might not otherwise see.

Business cards connect contact information to a skill set, instead of just remembering a name or email address. Always keep business cards on hand, especially at conferences or job fairs, as these are easy to store and many people collect them at such events. Business cards work in many networking situations, but they are easy to forget when attending smaller social events.

Elevator Pitches in Nursing

An elevator pitch is a succinct summation of your work, career goals, or credentials that takes about as long as an elevator ride. Know what you want to say and why. Also know what is appropriate. For example, a pitch about your capstone project might not work at a job fair. If you are attending a hiring event, consider how to succinctly pitch yourself as a potential employee. A successful elevator pitch leads to a more detailed conversation, and it could even lead to a job.

Social Networking Sites for Nursing Professionals

Professionals can explore several websites, such as LinkedIn, to network. These sites allow you to interact with people you might not otherwise meet, but they can also present an overwhelming sea of faces to meet. It is helpful to narrow down the list of potential contacts through groups or other search functions. Many sites offer free membership with paid membership providing additional benefits. Talk to colleagues and professionals to see which sites they use and how they can help you.

Tips for Networking in Nursing

While important, professional networking for nurses can sometimes be difficult. Networking is a skill that must be learned and improved over time. Keep at it, learn from your mistakes, and remember these tips.

Networking Event "Do's" for Nurses

Networking Event "Don'ts" for Nurses