When Should Professional Networking Start?
Some believe that networking starts outside of school, i.e., when one is done with studies and becomes a registered nurse — the notion is wrong.
Professional networking starts in school.
It starts with the clinical postings organized by the school/learning institutions.
These postings aim to equip the student nurse with practical and hands-on experience, and one must make good use of them.
Apart from the clinical postings by the schools, you can extern. Search hospital career sites and volunteer to work for them for the experience & exposure.
Gone are those days when a good-paying job waited for you immediately after school.
Today, you have to go after the job you want. And the most effective way of increasing your chances of getting that dream job is by getting involved with professional networking while still in school.
However, before networking as a student nurse, some things must be in place to ensure a high chance of success.
You must be assertive and confident.
You must be smart and willing to learn and participate.
Think outside your shift, come up with solutions and be creative.
These are some of the qualities staff nurses and doctors see in student nurses on the unit that makes it easy for them to connect with them.
- First of all, you should own a business card as a student. It shows commitment and rare professionalism. Your business card should contain your name, phone number, location, and a formal email address for simplicity.
You can also include your LinkedIn username and a website (if you have health-related content).
A simple example of a business card is seen below.
- Connect with other nurses and the nurse manager or team lead on the unit you are posted to.
Work hard and smart, even as a student.
Make yourself likable and noticeable.
Then give your card or contact information. Let them know you enjoyed working there and ask if they would be willing to be contacted in the future for a possible reference.
Or if you are graduating soon, take the initiative and let them know that if they enjoyed working with you and wouldn’t mind you on the team, they should contact you for possible openings.
- · Connect with nurses and the doctor [and other healthcare professionals] when at a doctor’s appointment. A lot of us shy away from mentioning we are nursing students at a doctor’s appointment, but be proud of it.
Remember, the sole purpose of mentioning it is to network. You never know who you will meet or what the experience will be like. If you enjoy the staff at the clinic or place you visit, connect with them and drop your card or contact information off.
In conclusion, you drive your nursing journey even as a student. Be intentional.