Best Ways to Network With Other Nurses
By Moira K. McGhee, contributor
Networking for nurses is important on a personal and professional level. Personally, it can help you connect with other nurses who face the same situations you do and understand what you're going through on a day-to-day basis — unlike those who aren't in nursing. Building a professional network is a vital tool in the advancement of your career, but it can also lead to lifelong friendships. Nurse networking may be face to face or take place in the virtual world, but it should always be mutually beneficial. Boost your network with other nurses with these helpful tips.
Join nursing associations
Professional nursing associations offer numerous opportunities to attend networking events, which are great ways to connect with other nurses. Many associations also provide online forums and groups where you can interact with peers who have similar interests. The American Nurses Association is one example that provides several ways to network and connect with RNs, including a mentorship program. It also has local networking opportunities through your State Nurses Association.
Attend nursing conferences
Conferences created especially for nurses are excellent ways to meet like-minded individuals. Many conferences are tied to nursing associations that offer discounted conference rates to their members, providing yet another perk for joining. Besides the many educational opportunities they provide, nursing conferences also give you the chance to meet experts and leaders in your specialty. Make a good impression by bringing professional network cards to share with attendees, and don't hesitate to politely ask for cards in return.
Virtual networking for nurses
The most obvious virtual nurse networking option is social media — just take care what you share. Electronic media is a popular outlet for sharing particularly challenging, highly emotional or extremely amusing work experiences. However, make sure you never include patients' names or other identifying information to protect their right to privacy and, possibly, your job and your freedom.
Be picky about your platforms
While social media platforms provide an ideal online outlet for networking with your peers, the number of options can be mind-boggling. LinkedIn is a professional must, and Facebook still reigns as the largest, most popular platform in the world. However, there are many others, including Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, and the list goes on and on. Don't get bogged down trying to keep up with too many online platforms. You'll grow a more satisfying network quicker if you concentrate on just a few platforms you have time to regularly update.
Join online communities
Go a step beyond social media sites filled with millions or even billions of people you have nothing in common with. Instead, find specialty groups for nurse networking. Professional organizations often have online communities where members can collaborate, commiserate, share resources and help each other thrive. These communities are especially helpful for travel nurses because they let you quickly make contacts in new cities while keeping up with those you left behind.
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Back up your contacts
As a travel nurse, you'll amass loads of contacts at medical facilities around the country where you made new friends you don't want to lose track of once you move onto your next assignment. You'll be tempted to just keep all this contact information on your smartphone, but something could happen to make you lose it all. One you've spent years compiling valuable information, backing it up is essential. Invest in a cloud service, or your phone may even have a backup option to ensure your nurse networking contact list remains safely intact.
Don't forget, nurse networking should be mutually beneficial. Don't put a strain on your carefully cultivated network of nurses by only getting in touch with others when you need something, and drop anyone in your group who doesn't give as well as take.