You have likely heard the cliche phrase “Your network is your net worth,” and if you haven’t, I hope I can take just a moment to introduce it to you and explain what it means on several different levels...
From a business standpoint, it means the bigger and better your network is, the more money you stand to make. But how does that work in the healthcare field, or in the typical 9-5 world? For me, it has meant knowing the right people at the right place and right time will open doors to opportunities you may have never had a chance to experience or ever even knew existed. When new graduates ask me for any words of advice I generally lead with network, network, network!
Hopefully by the time you graduate you already have a pretty solid network formulating, but if not, don’t worry- it is never too late. Here are some tips on how to network without seeming like you have an ulterior motive.
1. BE AUTHENTIC
As always, be yourself, and approach every interaction with someone as an opportunity to serve and learn. If you go at every interaction with a servant’s heart and you aim to be more INTERESTED than INTERESTING, you will start off on the right foot. This means:
Seek to listen before you seek to be heard.
Ask questions and really try to have that person you are meeting paint a clear picture of who they are, what they do, and some interesting aspects about them.
Once you have established that, start to think about how you may be able to bring value to them and their mission or business.
Then, offer up your skill sets via a no strings attached, completely free offering. Offer to edit their new podcast for free, or edit an upcoming manuscript, or help create their website if they are in need of one.
Think of a way that you can genuinely help first and the relationship will be able to pick up momentum from there.
2. THINK ABOUT WHO YOU SHOULD NETWORK WITH.
If you are just starting out in your career and you feel like you have little to no network, you can always start with your professors. They have just gotten you through the first big hurdle of your very young career: graduating school and passing your board examination. They would love to see you go forward in your career and succeed. So feel free to lean on them and tell them about your goals and plans, and areas of interest and ask them who they know who may reside in those areas of interest. They may very well be able to introduce you to a few people in your field that could potentially help propel you to the next level earlier in your career than you expected.
Dana Derricks has a book called “The Dream 100 Book” and if you haven’t read that one yet I would go and seek it out (it is only available on his website). The moral of that story is to try to create a list of the top 100 people that could help propel YOUR mission and your vision forward and how to go about trying to meet each and every one of them and network with each of them in attempts to have them help propel your business or your learning forward step by step and piece by piece, but at an accelerated rate.
That is one of the reasons people pay for mentorship: to speed up their scaling and growth process of whatever they are trying to accomplish.
3. THE ASK
Finally, you have met all of the right people, you have filled up their good will banks by offering free value early and often, you have crafted your list of 100 (or so) people that you think could help propel you and your ideas and your learning forward: last but not least is the ask.
This circles back around to being genuine. When you have a book out, a new podcast, a new course you are promoting, or a new non-profit you are starting up, you can go back to your network and genuinely ask for their help and support.
Realize that a good portion may say no, and that is ok. You have to give, give, give upfront with no expectation of getting in return because it is the right thing to do. But on the chance that they can help you or are willing to give to your cause, that is the time to cash in on all of your networking.
**A bonus tip**: (from a podcaster who grew his network 10X by even having a podcast...yes you should start a podcast about whatever your zone of genius is but I digress…) Always ask mentors, coaches and people you look up to who they may be able to introduce you to or who they think may be interesting to talk to or meet up with at some point. Utilizing other peoples’ networks is a great way to climb the networking ladder towards bigger names that may be harder to contact otherwise. So, start networking, because the best time to do that was 4-5 years ago, but the second best time is today!
-F Scott Feil, PT, DPT, EdD