The concept of networking sometimes creates an image of the glad-handing car salesman. What real networking is about is people – who you know, and who you can get to know. Your network conceivably extends beyond just the people you know – it extends to the people your immediate circle knows, and to some degree one step beyond that.
As Kennealy notes, “Every time you are in a conversation with someone you’d like to have in your network, you have the opportunity to share information about yourself and your work. You are, in effect, marketing yourself.” Opportunties to be in front of people, such as volunteer work, a board, speaking, and so on, are all means of getting to know people. Your best referrals are going to come from people who know you. A new patient is going to be more comfortable with a referral from someone in their network – and who is in yours – someone who can at least say, “he seems nice.” It beats picking a name out of a directory.
Kennealy gives three tips to develop excellent networking skills:
- Spend time getting to know the other person,
- Be a giver before you seek to get anything from anyone, and
- Make sure you follow up with the person you are eager to network with.
Networking is about time and patience. Many times you won’t be able to draw a line between your networking and the patients in your office. Over time, you will notice that patients and other opportunities are coming your way.
For more reading on networking, Susan RuAne’s website has some good material and links to her books.