Have you ever wondered if you should prioritize growing your network? Whether you want to grow your business, move up in your field, or start a new career, networking can help you exponentially expand your network of trusted connections and boost your bottom line.
As we all face the new reality created by the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are stuck working from home. There are some people who have even lost their jobs due to the virus. While the outcome of this time period is still unknown, what we do know is the vital importance of maintaining both social and professional networks.
While each state is handling coronavirus differently, the majority of people are spending less time in the office and more time at home. Perhaps you are still working and seeing a reduced number of patients, or maybe you are working more on the business end of your practice at home.
Whatever the case may be, we wanted to share with you the importance of digital networking. While we may be housebound and unable to head to conferences and coffee dates, the technology available at our fingertips allows for continued connection and professional growth. We want to also recommend a few approaches that will keep your professional circles going strong.
Let’s begin by looking at the important points that will have you network building like a pro in no time!
What is Networking?
As Andrew Hennigan, author of Payforward Networking, said,
“Networking is a deliberate activity to build, reinforce and maintain relationships of trust with other people to further your goals. Professional networking is simply networking focused on professional goals.”
We would add to this that effective networking requires a mutual reciprocation between members, each lifting one another.
How Can a Digital Network Help You, and Where Should You Start?￼
Digital networking helps you to expand relationships with others in your field. Moving over to the digital world allows you to streamline the networking process and connect with other professionals more quickly and easily. It also allows for flexibility and assurance, as you can meet with others virtually from anywhere in the world.
Believe it or not, it can also be one of the most powerful marketing tools you can have. A referral to a new client from an existing one or by another professional in your field boosts your reputation and your profits.
Networking, in general, expands the resources you have available to you for professional gain.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before you Begin Networking
To maximize your results, it is important to identify what your goals are for building a network. Important questions to consider before you start the process are:
- Do you wish to become better known in your field so others speak highly of you and refer new patients to your practice?
- Are you entering a new field and looking for work?
- Do you want to learn from an experienced member of your industry by finding a suitable mentor?
Consider your goals and then decide what type of person should be in your network. For example:
- How might connecting with other practitioners at your level or more senior (including those outside your field) help to fast track your success?
- Would you benefit from building relationships with people who are involved with governing bodies or your professional association? What about former classmates and colleagues?
- If your goal is to open a practice, how might connecting with others who have already successfully transitioned through this process assist your growth?
- What sources will help you build your digital network during this time?
By spending a little time and effort determining your goals and ideal contacts, you can hone your approach. This will save you from wasted time and cut the endless possible grind that puts people off networking in the first place.
While being stuck in your home limits the possibility of having in-person meetings, there are plenty of online sources for building and maintaining your network.
Sources for Building Your Digital Networking
Professional Associations. Whether they be specific to your industry, such as the American Chiropractic Association, or an association for the business owners out there such as Business Network International (BNI), these groups are great resources to find like-minded people to make professional connections with.
Take advantage of websites, which allow you to read about current research in your field and connect with other members.
If you aren’t yet on LinkedIn, join. This platform is essential to networking with other professionals. LinkedIn offers opportunities to make connections, share resources, apply for jobs, join relevant groups, and even advertise. There tons of relevant groups where you can get valuable resources, give advice, or even meet your next business partner.
Facebook offers groups, too, where you can interact with like-minded practitioners, provide insights, gain feedback and, especially if you offer online consultations, build your practice through international referrals. You can check out CBD CLINIC’s professional group here.
Instagram and Twitter are vital during this time period, as they allow practitioners to continue connecting and sharing ideas. Consider following industry experts and former colleagues and classmates on any of these platforms and connect with them here.
Online workshops/lectures/courses. Online education is having its moment now, and there are many opportunities to engage others in your field through online learning. Consider finding a continuing education course in your area of expertise or finding a hands-on learning workshop.
How to Maintain Your Network?
You’ve made connections through LinkedIn and online courses, “met” new professionals in your field and rekindled old relationships with former classmates and colleagues through email and phone calls…now what?
As with any relationship, you need to invest time building rapport. While lunch and coffee dates aren’t much of an option right now, take advantage of digital technology.
Consider email and video calls through Facetime, Whatsapp, or Zoom. While it is not always equivalent to in-person meetings, you can still connect, share, and make contacts. The plus side of using these platforms is that you can add multiple people to your calls. Discuss each other’s skills, fields of expertise, and how you can support each other’s goals.
Make sure to have some background and questions ready for whoever you are meeting with. Use this time wisely and think about how you can benefit from speaking with each other.
As like-minded professionals, this is a great opportunity to work collaboratively and provide support about how to continue helping your patients at home. Working on mutual projects together to benefit both your patients and practices is a win-win. Some options include:
- A blog or newsletter
- Creating a website
- Creating video tutorials demonstrating at-home massages/pain treatments
- Starting a fundraising campaign
Remember: Some associations will naturally bloom, others will wilt. Be mindful of remaining authentic, productive and mutually beneficial. Let go of what isn’t working.
While we understand the difficulty of this new reality, don’t let it keep you from building your social and professional networks. Engage with other professionals that intrigue you (even outside of your direct field), and engage with professional groups and forums. You will find that each engagement leads to growth and expands your network and skills.
Utilize digital networking to maintain and create new connections that will keep you networking like a pro.