In Healthcare, and in any other profession really, building and maintaining a professional network is a critical and essential skill. Learning to network can have many potential benefits and can be a powerful took for healthcare professionals to advance their careers. Since healthcare is evolving year by year, it is especially important to stay connected to other professionals to ensure you are up-to date on the latest practices. Additionally, having a strong professional network may also present new opportunities when needed, especially as a student. With one connection, more can build upon. One individual in your network, will know two others more, and so on, overall expanding your network, as seen from the image. For example, as a pre-medical student at Northeastern, you can take advantage of your network’s colleagues, from co-op, internships, and professors, all in different fields to help you advance your experience (i.e. through shadowing more doctors, or research experience ).
The value and importance of building a professional network is clear, but many neglect building these relationships, I know as a pre-medical student myself I had a rough start but it’s important to take the first step. So many individuals ask how do I start…
Where should you begin building a professional network?
- Join professional organizations that align with your career and professional goals
- Attend conferences
- Reconnect with old contacts (i.e. coworkers, friends, family)
- Don’t be afraid to ask current contacts to connect you with their colleagues
How do I maintain my professional network?
- Communicate regularly
- Connect with colleagues through professional social media platforms such as LinkedIn
- Interact with content from your network
- Return the favor to others by providing value, if applicable
Overall, building and maintaining your professional network over the long haul is important and can take time. Research has shown that your professional network will help you succeed at your current job but can also help you uncover your next one. Personally, coming to Northeastern University my first year, I had no idea how to start building my professional network. I was in a new city with new people and did not know where to start. However, following the above tips has not only helped me get two wonderful co-ops but also a full-time position for my gap year in another state. I was able to maintain contact with my boss at Brigham & Women’s Hospital who was able to connect me with another clinical research lab.
Following these tips, and researching more on the topic, can help you build and maintain a strong professional network in healthcare that can help you as a student and well throughout your career as it has helped me.
Daniela Ruiz, ’22