Use these networking tips to advance your nursing career

Just as with any career, networking is essential to landing the nursing job you've been working toward. Knowing the right people can make all the difference when it comes time to apply for the position you're hoping to fill.

Whether you've recently received your Masters of Science in Nursing or you've been in the workforce for years, the benefits of having a strong professional network is always helpful. Use these tips to make the most of your networking efforts.

Don't focus too much on yourself
While the underlying goal of networking is meeting new health professionals who you can turn to for help in your job search, it's important to realize that in order to stand out from the rest of the nurses searching for a position, you have to show your contacts something other than your interest in a job. Experts recommend having a relevant fact or skill in mind that will make them remember you. Cathy Taylor, careers advisor at the Royal College of Nursing in England, told StaffNurse.com that it's better to make your conversations about the professionals you're networking with instead of what you need from them.

"Instead of just asking about jobs, say something like 'I'm interested in moving into this area, and would you have any time to talk to me about your work and how you got into it?'" suggested Taylor. "Make the conversation about them rather than yourself."

MeetWhen you meet other nurses or health professionals, express sincere interest in what they do.

Make a point to attend conferences
As you build your professional network, consider attending conferences where you'll find nursing professionals ready to talk and answer any questions you may have. There are very few opportunities where you will find these connections in such an accessible setting. Do your research to see which conferences are occurring near you and attend the ones that are going to benefit you most. Strike up a conversation, expressing your interests and skills, and then provide your contact information and ask for theirs. If you end up applying to the care setting or organization they work at, writing that you know them on your application can determine your success at standing out from other applicants.

"Social media sites like LinkedIn can serve as powerful networking tools."

Keep social media in mind
While face-to-face interactions often lead to the best professional networking relationships, social media sites like LinkedIn can serve as powerful networking tools when this isn't possible. Keep your online profiles complete with your most recent certifications and accomplishments. Connect with everyone from nursing friends to colleagues and old professors – you never know who may be able to lend a helping hand in the future. You can also follow top health care organizations for career postings and comment on or share nursing-related articles to spark up conversations with fellow nurses and health professionals.

When it comes to your personal social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter, make sure you don't have anything on your page that you wouldn't want your future employer to see. Nurse.org pointed out that many hiring managers look to these social media pages for more information on potential hires and even make hiring decisions based on what they find.

Make it a two-way street
Remember that while your colleagues and nursing friends may be in the same boat as you while you apply for jobs and work to advance your nursing career, there may come a day when they are in a position to help you. Make sure that all of these connections remember you by not only staying connected through LinkedIn, but by letting them know they can reach out to you if there's ever anything you can help them with. This sincerity will stick out in people's minds and make them more willing to assist you if the time ever comes in the future. 

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