Networking is one of those things that lots of people feel nervous about and some others downright fear. However, when done right, networking is one of the best actions anyone can take in order to move forward professionally, which is why we asked our very own networking expert, James Smith, to share his best practices for successful networking with the Caring Support community. You can listen to our conversation on the subject posted on our podcast or continue reading to find out the how, when, and where of networking for healthcare workers.
Listen to the full interview on our podcast.
Whether you're fresh out of school and looking for your first real job, experienced in your field, longing for a change, or already established but eager for professional growth, networking is a great tool to connect with the right people that will open the right doors for you.
These are James Smith's best practices for networking that will guarantee your success:
"A lot of people don't realize that networking is an art and it's something that you absolutely can get better at but it requires practice, like anything else. I'm a huge proponent of being positive, embracing emotional intelligence, and other than just maybe a quick intro of one's self, it's really great if you really lead with learning about others first because it makes it so much easier to understand where you relate, where you can figure out what to focus on and the things that matter to them" says James.
"What I really love to use is emotional intelligence. I like to lead with 'how do I inspire other people?' And the reason I say it that way is that you will build an absolutely powerful bond with people when you're actually taking the time to learn about them so that you know, not only how to understand them, but how to help them. And then there's a natural compulsion for people to reciprocate... so embracing emotional intelligence (and this is absolutely something that people can learn) it's really understanding that vulnerability is a power, not a weakness. It's understanding that empathy is a very important part of building relationships with people. And these things should be embraced and taken along with all the other attributes that define and encompass emotional intelligence, being mindful, aware, all these things are learned because you're putting yourself in the shoes of another person."
James adds that one of the reasons why he promotes emotional intelligence is that "if you really embrace it, not only does it help you to keep those emotions in check and know when emotions work, and when it's proper to show that and to be okay with it too, to embrace the feelings that you're going to have."
"Think a little bit about that elevator pitch you're going to deliver. But instead of being caught up in fears - because that's the whole reason we do not move forward with anything - take a moment to figure that out and really prepare. You don't have to be a master at it, but the more you do it and the more you surround yourself with amazing people that you meet, the better you will be at it."
"I really believe that networking is almost a dated term now because really everybody is doing it and they don't realize it. And you could be working in any kind of setting, and you put a lot of people in a room, or maybe they're working in their own setting where they're more comfortable, and they're absolutely going to have to be communicating with each other and then potentially discover new opportunities together. Ideas, ways to work together, being introduced to someone else outside their network... All those things happen all the time because it starts, you see, with when people feel good with each other and comfortable, they're more open to sharing."
"Fear is probably the number one issue when networking, right? Generally speaking, I think it doesn't matter where you are in your career journey - maybe you're new to a country and English is your second language, let's say, like people coming to Canada - networking is highly important because people aren't going to show up at your door and say 'well, here are your groceries' or 'here's $1,000,000.' So, when people get frustrated or they're not sure how to meet people or meet the right people, I say, first of all, know who you are, because what'll happen before long is that radiating the right vibe will attract the right tribe, as they say."
"For one second, just be a little bit vulnerable. You go up and say 'hi, how are you doing? My name is James, I'm new to this, I don't know how to do this. I'm really nervous. would you help me?' Now, even if they did say no, which would be, in my opinion, extremely rare, because that's the whole reason they're there... then just ask again someone else. And I know for myself because I love to invite people to events and introduce them to other people, what this does is the more time they spend with people who make them feel better, make them feel more confident, make them feel like they can find their own voice, the sooner they start to go 'oh I got this. I'm starting to figure out what I'm going to say, the questions I should ask others, how I can help other people...' And then people start to realize that you are a person of value, and this is so critical."
"...The truth of the matter is we're all in sales. We don't want to admit it, but we are. And when we have an interview with a company, you better believe that what's really going to separate you from everyone else isn't what you learn in school, because they all learn the same thing. It's going to be who you are at the core. It's going to be your personality. It's going to be the way in which you can communicate, articulate, and that you're confident in who you are, without coming across, of course, as being arrogant."
"So what I would recommend to schools right now with any kind of health care program, is to really look at our platform because a lot of things that we're talking about have been built into it. We have, of course, our Academia channel for post-secondary institutions. And what that allows to do is that the career placement folks and all those that are working in that whole department can absolutely champion it and cheerlead and support their students. So it's going to allow them not only to share their profiles with the various health care organizations, but they get to really help them by saying all these amazing things that they know about them."
"Let me tell you when people don't know who they are or what they're awesome at, all you have to do is go to the people that know you and ask them and say 'hey, you know, what do you like about me? Why do you like hanging out with me?' And they're going to tell you and then it's going to help you go, 'oh, my God. Yeah. You know what? That's true. I didn't know I was doing that for other people.' So when people start to realize that and then they can almost get it down to storytelling about who they are, it can a create positive intrigue about them that will help them with networking and job hunting in general."
"The biggest difference between one person and another is the way in which they conduct themselves with others. That's the biggest difference. You could be the smartest person coming out of school with all the degrees and whatever... you can be smart when it comes to academics, but that doesn't mean you're going to be a person that's going to be great to hang out with, to spend time with and who can work in a team, or can work together with others. This stuff is very important in today's day and age. If needed, it reduces stress and other people will be more willing to help you because they're like, I really like working with this person. They make me feel great every day."
"When you set up a meeting with somebody in a virtual world, I think to some degree, results might sometimes be better and at other times maybe not. This is down to how well things go when you meet with somebody and personalities click as you're looking for areas of common interest. There is no question in-person, in my opinion, is best because you can really read people's body language and get a feel for what's going on. And maybe they're in a setting that makes them feel more relaxed. Now, having said that, if I get on a call on Zoom or Teams or whatever the platform is, it's really irrelevant. But the truth of the matter is, virtually you can really stick to the plan or the goals that you wish to accomplish on the call. That's how I look at it because it's not like that can't be done in person because when you're in person at events and the room's filled with a lot of people, you get constantly interrupted by others. People come in and it's hard for you to devote your 100% and focus on that person, even though you want to."
"The best thing that I recommend to people is to start going to events. Look at Eventbrite, look on LinkedIn for events. Look around at your local chamber of economic development, businesses, etc. They often have different events where you can network. And the reason I suggest that to start, is you get in that room and then what you do is, as nervous as people are, look for the folks you can tell are confident doing this. They've probably been there many times, know a lot of people in the community. So, just like anything else, start getting out there. Now that in-person events are coming back, I highly encourage it. Trust me, once you start doing it, you'll realize that networking has a dramatic impact on improving your self-confidence, lowering fears, and then having you realize that the people you're speaking with, they're no better than you are, they're just like us, and every one of us feels pain, joy, everything exactly the same way. So my suggestion is to get out there and start rock-starring it."
James Smith is Caring Support's Vice President of Sales. As a seasoned professional from the technology sector, he has worked in customer service, sales, account management, and community building. He is also an advocate of emotional intelligence who absolutely loves to network, be active in the community, and build genuine relationships by truly understanding how people think, feel, and operate. James enjoys bringing amazing people and organizations together so that everyone will benefit from the resulting opportunities.
We hope you have learned enough information about networking to feel empowered to give it a try. Feel free to ask us any questions or leave us your comments on the subject. We'd be happy to offer you further guidance on this matter. And if you haven't already, make sure to sign up to our platform to explore the career development and employment opportunities available to you. Visit our homepage Caring Support to get started.
Thank you for reading!
We'll keep you updated on all new application updates and features!