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How to Build a Network at Work
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These 6 tips will help guide the way.
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These 6 tips will help guide the way.
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These 6 tips will help guide the way
By Shawn Parsons
1. Work Hard: This is priority No. 1. Show everyone you are serious by working hard. Lead by example. Trust is earned, and if you are working as hard as, or harder than, your peers, they will develop a solid foundation of conviction for you. Reach out to peers and managers who seem overwhelmed; such gestures are not quickly forgotten. Live under the philosophy
Give, Give, Get. Go out of your way to do something for someone for no reason. These helpful actions will stay with your colleagues and build their understanding of your value. Arrive 5 to 10 minutes early and be up-to-speed at your shift's opening bell, literally and figuratively.
2. Humanize Yourself: Do your best to personally get to know everyone in your facility; it is vital to building a robust network. Say hello to everyone by first name and greet as many people as you can each day. Remember, you are all fighting the same fight and dealing with the same do-more-with-less stressors. The nurse you pass who looks miserable may have dropped a sick child off for care; the grumpy cafeteria staffer may have gotten into a fender bender or worse. Don't prejudge anyone. Whether you are the respiratory therapist, nurse manager, IT director, housekeeper or COO, you and your coworkers all want the same things: professional respect, competence, opportunity, time with families and friends, a living wage and a decrease in stress overall. Ask great questions of your coworkers and be prepared to share similar stories about yourself. A common thread can always be found.
3. Listen: Don't be a one-upper. You could have a more challenging position, a tougher shift, even smarter kids; no one cares! Listen to your coworkers. Developing rapport is about listening and showing interest in someone else's life, pursuits, challenges, goals. Do this because you want to, not merely to forge a path to your own financial gain or career advancement. Everyone appreciates a great listener.
4. Be Specific: When you do reach out to someone with the goal of career advancement in mind, invite them to lunch or coffee and have a
purpose from the onset. Be clear about your objective. You might say,
Mary, I am interested in becoming an oncology nurse and I would really value a chance to hear how you made that transition yourself. Could we meet over coffee at your convenience to chat about it?
5. Be Prepared: If Mary does agree to meet with you, be armed with appropriate questions pertaining to the topic at hand. Her time is valuable, and you must not waste it. You might ask,
Mary, what challenges can I expect when I move from pediatrics to oncology? Or
Mary, was there a particular course or training module that helped you most when making the transition? Or
Mary, is there someone here you would suggest as a mentor who might help me reach my goals? The point is: Minimize the everyday chitchat and make the discourse work for you. Be sure to follow up with a note of appreciation.
6. Practice Random Acts of Kindness: You might be thinking,
When do I have time to do that? It's more of a way of life, really. If you have developed a set of skills that can benefit your facility, practice or even a coworker, use them to assist. If you have experience within a specific area of expertise, teach it to your peer. If someone needs mentoring, do it because it is the right thing to do. This is the most gratifying and best way to build a great network within and outside your workplace. You will find no bigger advocate than a person to whom you have been generous for no reason.
Shawn Parsons is a freelance writer, account director at Acer Exhibits, and lifelong networker.