Networking is vital for nurses, especially if you are considering a career move. The right nursing network can provide you with advice, connections, and introductions. Networking tools like LinkedIn help you build and maintain your network. Learn how networking can help your career and how you can avoid potential pitfalls.
Why Is it Important for Nurses to Network?
No matter how much nursing experience you hold and how close you are to colleagues in your current job, a diverse nursing network gives you access to nursing and professional advice from multiple perspectives.
Valerie J. Fuchcar, BSN, RN comments, "If you find yourself making a career change unexpectedly, a well-developed and nurtured professional network helps to keep you sharp and provides support when seeking a new professional opportunity."
Creating a Professional LinkedIn Profile For Nursing
Just like with any other career or professional development activity, what you get out of your nursing network depends on what you put into it. Remember to be as thorough and professional online as you are in your job. Show how your nursing experience makes you the nurse others wish to connect with, listen to, or hire.
LinkedIn Profile "Do's"
Do convey professionalism: Use a headshot that shows your professionalism. Keep casual photos for Facebook or Instagram. Fuchcar advises, "Remember that you are presenting your professional self on LinkedIn. Be mindful of your settings so that you are discoverable to employers and other potential connections."
Keep your profile up to date and check it regularly: Make sure when you change your job or job responsibilities, or earn a new certification that you keep your network informed. "Keep your information accurate and current. Consider using a personal email address on your LinkedIn profile so that it is valid regardless of your employment status. Make sure you check at least once a month," Fuchcar says.
Do complete your entire profile: Be sure to include all of your certifications and professional credentials, your education, professional memberships and honors, and your professional development activities. Some professional development providers, such as associations, offer digital credentials through services like Credly that give you a link for a verified digital badge.
Be deliberate about building your network: Consider not just your current needs but what you will need for your next career move. Look to build connections with people who work at organizations where you'd like to work, whose advice you'd like to access, or who are in the type of role you'd like to hold.
LinkedIn Profile "Don'ts"
Don't say anything negative about an employer or colleague: Even if you don't name names, it looks unprofessional if you talk about personal or professional conflicts. At worst, you could lose your job or be sued. And, of course, say nothing negative about your patients.
Don't allow any errors on your profile: Be sure to check every fact for accuracy and proofread carefully. Better yet, get a friend or colleague you trust to review your profile for any mistakes. A typo could suggest that you miss important details, which is the last impression you want your nursing network to develop.
Don't include extraneous information: Remember that LinkedIn is for professional rather than personal networking and that recruiters viewing your profile want to decide quickly about contacting you for a position. Prune your content regularly as you develop nursing experience. For example, what's relevant about a recent graduate, such as classes or projects, is irrelevant for senior positions.
Don't neglect maintenance: Even if you don't have an update for your profile, you can share articles, comment on others' posts, and keep in touch with colleagues you haven't heard from for a while. Posting articles you find valuable or interesting shows you're engaged in your professional development and seeking to share what you learn.
5 Ways Nurses Can Start Building Their Network
Building your nursing network takes time. You'll need to keep looking for new connections to add to your network and new ways to make your networking profile stand out.
1. Engage Often
"Take time to comment on your connections' milestones, such as birthdays, work anniversaries, and promotions. These are great touchpoints and a nice time to check in, learn what's new with your connection and their organization, and perhaps offer or ask for assistance," Fuchcar notes. This ensures you stay on top of changes in your nursing network and field.
If you have non-nursing colleagues in your network, you can also get a sense of what's happening in their field that might affect yours. Your nursing experience could also give you insight into their challenges.
When you offer advice, be sure your tone is helpful rather than patronizing. Remember, both strangers and your nursing network can read what you write.
2. Create Opportunities for Engagement
You can learn as much or more from personal conversations as from lectures. Take advantage of the diversity in your nursing network to obtain different perspectives and ideas and foster discussions. For example, contribute articles that encourage discussion, such as those exploring ethics, different approaches to various aspects of nursing, or ideas from outside nursing.
Share your nursing experience where relevant and helpful, and ask others to share their experience. Remember that seeking advice shows you're working to develop and solve problems and that taking advantage of a variety of opinions and ideas is a sign of wisdom, not weakness.
3. Find In-Person Connections
Start with people you already know, such as classmates, professors, professionals you meet at conferences, or even neighbors and friends. Make developing your nursing network a priority when you start at a new organization.
Fuchcar advises, "Beginning on day one with a new organization, network with all the people in your onboarding group, and stay in touch. Introduce yourself to each presenter, and send them a LinkedIn invitation to connect, or follow them on Twitter that evening." Once you have a network of people you know, it's easier to connect with people you'd like to know.
4. Tell a Story
Telling stories is integral to human nature. Use stories to share your personal or nursing experience in overcoming a struggle or solving a particular problem. This method of storytelling engages your audience more than if you simply state what you learned from an experience.
However, be sure when you tell a story that you share the credit for success with those who deserve it. If your colleagues see you left them out of a story or took credit for their accomplishments, you could lose some of their trust and respect.
Similarly, make sure your story contributes something and isn't presented arbitrarily.
5. Participate in Nursing Groups and Organizations
Joining a local or specialty nursing association is great for building your nursing network and professional knowledge and career prospects. If you don't know what associations would be valuable to you, ask a colleague in your region or specialty which groups they recommend. Look at the LinkedIn profiles of your professional role models, since profiles often list their professional memberships.
Attend professional meetings, either in-person or online, when you can. If you're new and attending by yourself, you can start conversations by stating that you're new. Ask others what they like most about the association or what they hope to get out of the meeting or conference.
Networking takes effort. Cultivate your network by an initial investment, followed by ongoing maintenance. You can use the information in this guide to start your network or to revive it if you haven't taken full advantage of the opportunity.
Fuchcar emphasizes, "Networking should begin in school and continue throughout your life. You are constantly meeting people. Make it a point to take an interest in them and keep in touch." Your nursing network may likely offer the solution to your career or professional challenges.
Frequently Asked Questions About Networking for Nurses
Is LinkedIn good for nurses?
LinkedIn is an excellent way to keep in touch with colleagues, learn from their nursing experience, share your own experiences, watch for emerging trends, and position yourself for your next career move. The more diverse your network, the better, the more perspectives and disciplines you can learn from inside and outside nursing.
How do I write a LinkedIn summary for nursing?
Your LinkedIn summary should reflect what makes you tick, your current employment position, and what you want to accomplish. Show pride in your work, but avoid boasting or making false claims. If you're job hunting, be sure to show what you would contribute to an organization.
How do I add an RN license to LinkedIn?
LinkedIn offers a special tool for adding professional credentials. Go to your profile and select Edit Profile. Choose Add Sections, then Certifications. Enter the information, including the licensing authority (your state board of nursing) and license number. Be sure to click Add Certification when you're done.
What are some nursing skills to put on a resume?
Check out job descriptions for relevant positions at the organizations where you want to work. Add what applies to your nursing experience and credentials. Provide examples of impact on your patients or organization. For example, instead of saying you're "organized," describe how you used your organizational skills to optimize something in your workplace, including the time or money you saved.
Meet Our Contributor
Valerie J. Fuchcar, BSN, RN
Fuchcar has over 30 years of progressive talent acquisition experience, specializing in recruitment strategy development, candidate sourcing, candidate engagement, compensation review, and negotiation. She enjoyed a lengthy career with Erlanger Health System, serving as executive director of leadership recruitment. Fuchcar's knowledge of human resources recruitment compliance laws and her acumen with strategic marketing plans to source top talent strengthen the Kirby Bates Team.
Featured Image: Ekaterina Goncharova / Moment / Getty Images
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