A support network can make or break your nursing career. The best support network is built first with those who work most closely with you–word-of-mouth referrals in a tight job market often carry more weight than experience, degrees and other qualifications on your resume. Use these tips to build up a strong, reliable support network and pave the way to greater success!
5 ways to build up a support network
1. Don’t inflate your own value
If you talk a big talk but cannot perform, people notice. Hard work and excellent patient care get noticed by managers and peers like nothing else. Complaining, whining, or creating interpersonal workplace drama reflect badly on your overall performance and can undermine the respect that people may have for your clinical skills.
2. Keep track of who you know
Future employers will ask you for name and contact information of people who have worked closely with you. It pays to ask coworkers with whom you have a good working relationship to function as future references. Keep in mind that these coworkers do not have to be nurses. Social workers, physicians, nurse practitioners, or patient care technicians can function as excellent references.
3. Become a good learner and conversationalist
Every person is potentially valuable to your network. Not only will they know clinical things you do not, but they also will have numerous other connections that will expand your network. Learn how to inquire about someone’s professional background (without being creepy), and learn how to discuss your own background without bragging. In addition, someone’s background may be different than their passion. Listen and identify their passions as well as your own.
4. Stay active on professional social media sites like LinkedIn
The internet is a great resource for both employers and employees to find what they are looking for. Flesh out your professional online resume and request “recommendations” from your connections so that when an employer starts looking, you’ll shine!
A word to the internet-wise: Use judgment when interacting on non-professional websites. Profiles, statuses and pictures are not as private as we would like to think. Not only will potential employers be turned off by less-than-professional conduct, but references may also hesitate to give a glowing report.
5. Attend professional conferences and local chapter meetings of your interest groups
Other nurses aren’t competition that subtract from your value…they’re your exponents that multiply your own talents. In certain circumstances, your ability to “get things done” may depend on who is in your network and if they will do you a favor. Find groups that encourage your nursing passions and jump in with both feet! Invest your time and efforts into helping others, and what goes around will come back around, bringing resources and the career boost you want.
How has your support network helped advance your career? Leave your success story in the comments!