How to network effectively as a physician
Category: Physician Career Resilience
by Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE
Bring up the subject of networking and most people think “making a cold call” i.e. calling someone you don’t know. Actually it’s worse than that: calling someone who doesn’t know you, doesn’t want to know you, will yell at you, tell you are an insignificant speck of dust, why are you bothering me?! why on earth would I want to talk with you? don’t ever contact me again! . . . .
Oh, wait, that was my fear-filled imagination talking. Whew! I sure don’t want to be in that scene.
Is that what happens to YOU when you think about “networking?” Do you imagine a humiliating rejection scenario that will forever haunt you and dishonor your family?
Well ditch that movie and try this one:
“Hi, this is Dr. R___ C____. I believe our mutual friend, F__ G___ mentioned I would be contacting you. . .. . . . Yes, he is a great person, and he’s pretty impressed with what you’ve accomplished which is why he thought you’d be a valuable person for me to speak with.
I appreciate your willingness to talk with me. As FG probably mentioned to you, I am interested in developing my interest in an area along the lines of what you’re doing and wanted to learn more about your experience.
I’d like to talk with you for about 15 to 20 minutes. Can I schedule a time for us to talk when it’s convenient for you? Or will this work now?”
Great! Well, I have just a few questions . . . .
So, how do you feel in this movie so far? A little more comfortable? Like talking with a friend of a friend? Like you are a real person, not an ant crossing the sidewalk?
Connecting on a Soul Level
There are specific communication strategies and tactics that you can learn in order to make networking almost as comfortable as talking with a close friend; even if you are painfully shy, these strategies work! (See our free Tele-class in July)
Good networking requires that you be real, genuine, and respectful. Networking is the mutual exchange of human interest. And in a best case scenario it is also connecting on a soul level.
Connecting on a soul level means being open to that one bit of information, that secret, that tip, an inspiration or idea that sings to your soul. That one sneak of an insight that makes you go “ah ha!” or “ah . .. haaaaaaa” and becomes the turning point upward in your professional journey or career exploration.
Look for Insight, not Just Insider Information
The reasons we “do” networking are many: to find out about opportunities in a company or industry, to meet people for the fun of it, to make connections that can “pay off” later,” to meet people who can buy a service or product from us, to impress someone with our brilliance so they can hire us in the future.
Another good reason for you to network—to connect—is to gain insight about yourself and the path you were meant to follow. This is not to say that you ask a person who you’ve only met five minutes ago: “What can you tell me about me?” Rather, it is important to pay attention to what you hear in what others are saying that MAKES AN IMMEDIATE AND DEEP CONNECTION in you. Don’t analyze the “data”, just listen with your soul.
Here are clues that something you heard is a soul insight for you:
- You experience a quick churn or flip in your gut
- A small piece of the conversation sticks with you
- You comment to your spouse that you were “struck” by something you heard
- You dream about it
The insights you gain in the process of connecting can be especially valuable guides during times when you feel that you lack “direction” or “clarity” in your life. Next time you’re out and about networking, listen on a soul level and notice what you hear.
Are you interested in learning how to make networking easier through specific communication strategies and tactics? If so, join me and your colleagues on Thursday, July 10, 8 PM (at night) Eastern Time for a free Tele-class: “Effortless Networking for the Reluctant Physician.”
Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE is an executive coach and business consultant for healthcare leaders and physicians. She is Founder and Director of Creative Strategies in Physician Leadership and a professional speaker on healthcare leadership, innovation and change.