Here on The Nurse Keith Show, I’ve cajoled listeners about the importance of networking ad nauseum. Y’know why? Because it couldn’t be more important for your nursing career, that’s why!
Your nursing tribe, your professional family, is what you need to create, folks. That tribe is paramount for your longevity and happiness as a nurse. Have you found your tribe yet?
Networking is one of many healthy nutrients feeding the very lifeblood of your nursing career, and if you don’t believe me, think about how important to you many of your colleagues have been during your time as a nursing professional. Unless you live under a rock or keep yourself locked in a hermetically sealed room where you conduct telephone triage or chart reviews in absolute solitude, your fellow professionals loom large in your personal/professional orbit. (And if you do indeed live under a rock, isn’t it uncomfortable?)
Anyway, for previous episodes related to networking in one way or another, try the following:
- Episode 3: All about the crucial importance of networking
- Episode 13: Focuses on the benefits of conferences and seminars, which touches on networking
- Episode 16: Deep networking
- Episode 22: Informational interviews, which are a type of very targeted networking
- Episode 28: All about my book, “Savvy Networking for Nurses: Getting Connected (and Staying Connected) in the 21st Century“.
If you’re wondering why I want to talk even more about networking (and why about 10% of my podcast episodes are directly or indirectly about networking), look no further; I mention networking so often because it’s just so very important, and I want you to join the party and drink the networking Kool-Aid a la Nurse Keith.
The ROI of Networking
When I talk with certain nurses and nurse entrepreneurs, they sometimes ask about the ROI—or “return on investment”—of networking. Quantifying the return on investment of networking isn’t easy to do, but if they want to know, I do my best to elucidate how I would calculate such a thing. The ROI is almost immeasurable, and it’s often more qualitative than quantitative; however, nurses like to measure things, so I give it a go for those who insist.
If you meet someone at a conference, give them your business card (you have a business card, right?), and you then stay in touch over time, that connection could eventually bear fruit you may not be able to predict. Say the person you exchanged business cards with lives in a city where you’d like to move. Let’s say you visit said city, pound the pavement, and meet for lunch with this person. Let’s imagine that she introduces you to several colleagues at local hospitals, and one of those connections leads to an interview and you getting hired. There’s a return on investment that’s pretty quantifiable.
Let’s imagine another scenario where that nurse doesn’t land you a connection that gets you a job, but she advises you about a great school for your son, the best place to buy organic veggies, and where to go for a great Italian dinner with your husband on your anniversary. That’s not necessarily life or death information, but isn’t there value in that, too? And if this nurse becomes one of your closest friends and allies, how would you ever measure the relative value of a relationship that began at a nursing conference with a simple exchange of contact information?
The return on investment of valuable relationships with the potential for lifelong connection is beyond measure, and you’d be smart to think about such notions with an open mind and a very broad brush.
The Value of A Tribe
Tribal societies rely on collectivism and a sense of unity that elevate everyone more or less equally. The tribe protects one another, provides shelter for one another, cares for its elders and children, and otherwise thinks in terms of the good of the whole.
When you were in nursing school, there might have been some sense of family, although there were doubtless different clans within the tribe, and perhaps more than a small amount of competition, be it friendly or cutthroat in nature (this was nursing school after all, right?)
In your places of employment, there’s also the potential for a sense of tribe, but also potential for warring factions, bullying, harassment, and a strong energy of hierarchy and patriarchy.
If you’re going to be happy—or at least content—you must have a few allies, whether it’s in nursing school or your workplace. Your tribe may be tiny, or it might be expansive; however you slice it, you need your tribe and they need you; it’s survival.
Remember, your professional tribe isn’t just nurses; it’s physical therapists, doctors, surgeons, nursing assistants, administrative staff, executives, your preceptors and professors, fellow classmates, housekeeping staff, anyone with whom you feel a connection and a bond of some kind or another.
Here in the United States, where the bedrock of rugged individualism is what the country was founded upon, we sometimes feel isolated because we’re so steeped in the notion of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps and going it alone, shouldering a Puritan work ethic that isn’t at all necessary to yoke ourselves with. My friends, you don’t have to go it alone; collectivism is healthy, and nurturing symbiotic relationships is super prudent for you at every phase of life.
My tribe covers the globe. I have old friends who may not live nearby; we may not be in touch very often, but I know they’re there, and we share a collective history that’s worthy of hanging on to, even 30 years down the road.
There’s also family, both nuclear and distant, who are also important to my sense of self and place in the world.
And then there’s my professional world. I’m sorry I’ve lost touch with most of my pals from nursing school; it would be great to keep tabs on one another over the years. I’ve also lost touch with nurses, physicians, and others from the earlier parts of my career; some of those relationships would have been helpful to hang onto, personally and professionally.
I’ve learned a lot over the years, and now that I teach other people about the value of networking, I try to walk my talk in that regard. My tribe is enormous and growing, and there are some real gems that stand out in my mind as I write this.
On this episode, I give a shout out to Dr. Renee Thompson, who left me a lovely 5-star review over on iTunes (listen to the episode to hear what Renee had to say). Renee is one of the foremost experts and thought leaders on bullying in nursing and how to eradicate it. She’s worthy of your attention at RTConnections.com and Twitter!
Who’s In Your Tribe?
Who’s in your tribe, nurses? How does your tribe support you? Does your tribe need to grow? Do some members need to be ejected? Do you need to reach out to a few people who you really need to be a little closer in?
A tribe provides comfort, protection, and a sense of belonging. Don’t you want that for both your professional life and your personal life?
Find your tribe.
This episode of The Nurse Keith Show is sponsored by the good folks at American Sentinel University. As a fully accredited online university, American Sentinel offers a variety of courses related to healthcare and nursing, including RN to BSN, and five MSN programs: Informatics, Case Management, Nursing Education, Nursing Management, and Infection Prevention and Control. They offer an RN to BSN/MSN, a program, as well as two tracks for those wishing to pursue a Doctorate of Nursing Practice. American Sentinel also offers a certificate in Prevention and Control that assists clinicians in acquiring the knowledge they need to develop best practices for infection prevention and control. Please visit AmericanSentinel.edu/NurseKeith for more information.
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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 is also 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 currently writes for MultiViews New Service, LPNtoBSNOnline.com, StaffGarden, and Working Nurse Magazine.
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. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his lovely and talented wife, Mary Rives.