Networking Best Practices: How to Use Your Connections to Land Your Ideal Job
“It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know.” In today’s world, networking is key to getting the job you’re after.
The Importance of Networking
In most industries, competition for the best positions is fierce. The same holds true for coveted nephrology openings. How do hiring managers identify great nephrology candidates in a pool of qualified applicants? Relationships.
When education and ability are roughly equal in a talent pool, nephrologists need to distinguish themselves in other ways. One of those is by building and maintaining a healthy professional network. Sometimes individual connections can be the bridge that can cause a particular prospect to rise to the top, other times it is simply the fact that they are active in the industry that makes them stand out, or simply an introduction to someone in your ideal geographic area where you are focusing your job search.
Either way, a robust professional network will help in your search for the ideal position at a practice or institution where you’ll enjoy working.
The pandemic has made remote networking more commonplace, and thus more accessible than ever before. While live events are slowly returning, virtual networking is here to stay, and will likely be the primary way to connect with other nephrology professionals for a very long time.
There are several places online nephrologists can join and connect with one another, like the American Society of Nephrologists communities and, of course, here at U.S. Renal Link. However, the number one platform for networking is unquestionably LinkedIn.
Linkedin for Nephrologists
As a sort of “Facebook for Professionals”, the size and functionality of LinkedIn make it simple for you to build up a web presence, meet others, and showcase your knowledge through easily discoverable posts.
Perhaps most importantly, LinkedIn is the #1 platform used by hiring managers and recruiters to find the best candidates. With that in mind, here are some best practices when building your LinkedIn profile:
- Have a recent professional profile photo
- Use a background photo to stand out and showcase something about yourself
- Use your Summary to explain why you do what you do or say something interesting. There are other places for you to list skills and accolades, so save that for later.
- Sync your LinkedIn to your email address book. This will automatically connect you with other people that you know — automatically growing your network.
- Highlight the most relevant Skills. A list that is too long starts to feel like you checked every possible box. Instead, focus on the ones that matter most.
- Request recommendations. Recommendations from reputable sources go a long way in validating you as a viable candidate.
- Stay active. Have a recent publication? Post it to your profile. Be sure to follow people who are active in the field, comment on things people post and share good information when you find it. LinkedIn is like any other social media: engagement is key.
Engaging on Twitter
Twitter is also an excellent resource for networking in the nephrology community, although it functions very differently from LinkedIn. With LinkedIn, you can create a post that can be viewed today, next week, or even next month. Twitter, on the other hand, is much more about immediacy. The more accounts someone follows, the faster their timeline moves. It’s very possible someone will completely miss something you post just because of the volume of tweets that go out in a given hour.
A successful Twitter account is one that focuses on the here and now: make comments about current events, respond to what other people are saying, and keep your posts short and to the point. When leveraged correctly, Twitter can be an excellent networking tool that enables you to engage in conversations with people outside your immediate peers.
Here are some best practices for networking on Twitter:
- Start with your bio. Just like LinkedIn, your bio is often the first thing people will check. Make sure it is complete and reflects the person you want to be perceived as.
- Utilize public Twitter lists. Twitter lists are curated accounts that you follow. There is a private version that only you can see, but public lists are a way for people to understand your interests. The list name and people included on your list give insight into the kind of content that you want to engage.
- Use the appropriate hashtags. Hashtags are used on other social media platforms, but they are most important on Twitter. Search for hashtags for content you want to speak on, and be sure to include them in your own tweets to maximize their discoverability.
- Retweet others. This is not only a great way to gain visibility, but it also is an unobtrusive way of engaging with someone you’d like to connect with.
Check out “An introduction and guide to becoming a social media savvy nephrologist” for more great tips on utilizing social networking platforms. You can also follow us @USRenaLink for job opportunities, tips & tricks on the job search as well as for other resources and industry events.
Over the past year, almost all major conferences created virtual versions for people to attend. Now, many of those conferences are returning to their original in-person formats. However, that doesn’t mean that virtual conferences are going away. On the contrary, virtual conferences allowed people to hear speakers and network that they otherwise might not have been able to attend. Going forward, we can expect both in-person and virtual conferences to be a staple networking opportunity all year round.
Networking at in-person events
For in-person events, networking is mostly a matter of introductions. As these conferences almost always take place in one central location, you can be confident that the people you see grabbing a coffee, sitting up at the bar, or chatting in the hall are all there for the same reason you are. With that in mind, it’s often completely appropriate to approach someone, introduce yourself and ask what they do. It can feel awkward, but most people like leaving an event feeling like they’ve made a few good connections. This is also a great opportunity to meet with prospective employers you may already be talking to. Ask them if they will be attending an upcoming conference and try to arrange a meeting while you’re there.
This is even easier if the event has breakout groups or multiple speakers presenting at once to smaller crowds. Ask someone a question after a presentation or simply ask them what they thought. There are often social events held during a conference, these are great opportunities to meet and engage with industry leaders, prospective employers, and others in the industry who can help you get connected. Also, be sure to have your CV prepared in advance.
Networking at virtual conferences
This can be tricky depending on the setup of the conference. In a best-case scenario, the conference has prepared dedicated breakout groups for discussion. In these situations, you’re usually in a smaller virtual meeting with 5-10 other participants. The whole point of these is to encourage discussion, so don’t be afraid to speak up. If you’d like, drop a link to your LinkedIn or other social media in the chatbox and invite others to follow you there.
Of course, you can always send a message to a speaker you enjoyed at a conference. These presenters usually have some kind of publicly available contact information, whether it is a work email or a form on their website. Either way, be sure to send them a message after the conference letting them know you enjoyed their presentation and follow up with any questions you might have had. They’ll appreciate the engagement and you may have a valuable new contact.
If you’re interested, we’ve got a full calendar of upcoming opportunities on the U.S. Renal Link site for you to see. We’re always updating it as new events are being announced, and ensuring you’ve got all the information you need to get signed up. You can see our Events Calendar here.
Lastly, remember to engage the personal contacts you’ve made throughout your education and career. Friends, co-fellows, attendings, Program Directors, recruiters, and others that you’ve met are all an excellent place to build your network. Start by following all of your professional contacts on the social media platforms you use.
A great feature of social media is the “people you may know” tab. It’s called different things on different platforms, but in every case, it recommends accounts for you to follow. Sometimes it is people you follow elsewhere, and sometimes it displays friends of friends who are one degree of separation from you. For many people, simply seeing you have mutual friends is enough of a reason to follow one another.
As you add people to your professional network, always be in the habit of checking who else they follow and who follows them. And remember, everyone wants to be treated like a person first. No one likes to feel like someone is only reaching out to them to add another number to the contact list or because they’re going to ask them for something. Simply being sincere with others will go a long way. This should go without saying, but if you do interview with someone and aren’t interested in the job and/or location, remember to thank them for their time and you may even want to stay in touch.
If you haven’t already, you’ll find nephrology to be a small world! Maintaining relationships in the industry can go a long way.