In a blog post dated March 27th, 2017, I wrote about five strategies for building your network of nursing career allies. I wrote:
In the course of your nursing career, you need allies who can help you elevate and advance your journey as a professional nurse. Allies are easier to come by than you think, but so many nurses don’t think strategically about this important aspect of nursing career development.
Who are your allies, nurses?
There are many tricks and tips about professional networking, and I’ve shared many of them here on this podcast. And while gathering your team of allies is something that can happen as a result of assiduous and strategic networking, many networkers never really get to the stage of identifying their truest allies and tribe members.
The first tip from that blog post is to find a mentor.
A mentor is an ally who has your best interests in mind. During your nursing career, you can always hire a mentor for a short period of time and a specific purpose (for example, a career coach), but there are plenty of mentors to go around among your peers and colleagues.
A mentor can be an experienced and compassionate colleague who is willing to meet with you on a regular basis to help you navigate important aspects of your career. If there’s someone who you think is the cat’s meow as a nurse or leader, boldly ask them to be your mentor — let them know what you need, and ask if they’d be willing.
My next tip is to start small and easy.
If you’re an introvert and networking is scary and intimidating, don’t worry about trying to find like-minded allies and colleagues at big conferences and meetings. Start small, and make this process easy on yourself.
Look to your immediate circle of colleagues for your true allies. Who always has your back? Who checks in and asks how you’re doing? Who offers help and is always there for you? Look among your work friends for your natural allies.
Tip #3 is about leveraging online platforms.
I use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to build my network and meet new people with whom I feel aligned. When someone really stands out from the crowd, I reach out and we expand our relationship via a phone or Skype, and sometimes we have the chance to meet in person, which is really the icing on the cake.
The fourth recommendation is to think outside of the box.
Your allies don’t all have to be nurses; in fact, they don’t even have to work in healthcare at all.
Your most ardent and enthusiastic allies might be right under your nose.
Think about your family and close friends — who among these groups of your most intimate circles are natural allies?
Finally, tip #5 is that it’s really all about you.
Finally, look to yourself, nurses. You need to be your own greatest ally. After all, you’re always there, aren’t you?
If there are ways in which you tend to undermine yourself, seek help from a therapist or counselor in unpacking those negative habits and thought patterns. Continue to untangle the stuff that holds you back, and consistently move forward in the interest of being self-respecting, healthy, whole, and balanced.
Nurses, if your professional networking has been superficial (you know who you are!), it’s time to up your game. Which of these tips can you implement today?
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Be well, dig deep, and keep in touch!
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind NurseKeith.com and the well-known blog, Digital Doorway.
Keith is co-host of RNFMRadio.com, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. Keith was previously the resident nursing career expert at Nurse.com.
A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.”
He has also contributed chapters to a number of books related to the nursing profession, and has written for Nurse.org, Nurse.com, MultiViews News Service, LPNtoBSNOnline, StaffGarden, Working Nurse Magazine, and other online platforms.
Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, online nurse personality, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known successful nurse entrepreneur.