The first thing you probably think of when you hear the word networking is fear, anxiety or even boringness. If that’s actually the case, right now is the time to change that perspective!
Meeting new people is exactly the same in a professional setting and a personal setting. This realization makes all the difference when approaching networking events.
You need to focus on turning strangers into friends and fans, not just on looking for tips on “how to network better”.
However, we know it’s easier said than done, so here’s our set of recommendations on how to do some effective networking to find a preceptor, step by step:
How to prepare before the event
Step 1: Establish your purpose
Even though you can use this events to look for a preceptor, you can also attend them to find new opportunities, learn about what’s trending in the industry, find new employees or meet potential business partners, and so on. Show up to give, but be ready to tell why you’re there if you’re asked.
As a nurse practitioner, outside of needing a preceptor, what can you offer?
Step 2: Go to events that you’re comfortable with
Go to the events where you know you’ll feel more comfortable and therefore confident. For example, if you don’t like big crowds, there’s no need to attend a 200-people event when there are so many 20-people ones you can choose from.
Step 3: Change your perspective and expectations
Focus on connecting with people, not finding a preceptor. Even if someone can’t precept you, in the future they could be an awesome friend, mentor, referral, etc.
Step 4: Make pre-event connections
If the guest list is public, reach out to the people you find interesting a day or an hour before the event. Send them a message about how you’re looking forward to meeting them at the event and tell them how to find you there.
This is a super easy hack that a lot of networkers don’t take advantage of.
What to do during the event
Step 5: Come up with a few good questions and write them down. Here are some of our favorites:
- What cool project are you working on right now?
- What do you love about your specialty…?
- How’d you end up in [insert city]?
- Five years ago, did you think you’d be here in this [career, job, city, etc.]?
- If you could do something in your career differently, what would it be?
Step 6: Bring people together
If you meet someone who’s looking for a new nurse practitioner in their clinic, and 20 minutes later you meet someone who can fit that role, then go make that connection. Become a connector and people will remember you.
Step 7: Ask people for someone else they may know who you can connect with, and/or ask them if there’s anyone they’ve met that you should meet
It’s difficult to ask for help or sometimes come off as aggressive. Overcoming this block is important.
Step 8: Add them on social media when you get to your car or later at home
Don’t wait. And, no it’s not weird. Take the initiative. The people you request will feel great about the gesture. Don’t ever skip this step!
What to do after the event
Step 9: Follow up within 24 hours of the event
If you can’t do it, then don’t bother going to the event. If you know you’re busy the next day, create a rough follow-up template before the event. Most people prefer social media or text because everyone else uses e-mail.
Not sure what to say? Here’s a text you can use:
“Great chatting yesterday at [insert event]. When is it a good time to grab coffee/chat in the next day or two? I’d love to pick your brain sometime! Do you have any advice on __________?”
People want to help you as long as they feel like you’re listening.
Step 10: Aim to set a follow-up meeting, especially if you two are in close proximity
Meeting in person will always be better than virtual meetings. We know you are all super busy, but investing that time now will get you amazing results.
As a Nurse Practitioner, networking may not come natural to you. But don’t worry, it’s a learnable skill that, like any other, takes practice to develop.
Always be willing to help others and that mindset will take you far on your networking journey. Put in the work and you’ll probably find that preceptor, and your first position after finishing school!
Stay tuned to our social media pages linked below for more tips and valuable info about finding your clinical rotations, and let us know if you need any help!