When it comes to career development, an old saying applies: It’s not what you know but whom you know that counts. For people seeking career opportunities in healthcare, being well-connected can be just as advantageous as having expertise. While the right educational background and technical competencies are important for getting ahead, networking in healthcare is key.
For professionals who work in health informatics and health information management, networking is an opportunity not only to develop knowledge but also to identify new avenues for career advancement. To achieve that goal, a solid academic foundation, such as a Master of Science in Health Information Management, is essential.
Why Healthcare Networking Is Important
Health professionals stand to benefit from strong networking strategies for several reasons.
Develop New Perspectives on Clinical Care
One of the primary benefits of robust networking in healthcare is that it allows health professionals to forge connections with colleagues and peers, including those who work in other areas across the spectrum of healthcare settings.
For example, a strong professional network may include representatives of both rural and metropolitan health settings, public health clinics and academic research facilities. Such exposure brings a well-rounded perspective to the issues and challenges facing the healthcare industry.
Find Out About New Career Opportunities
Another advantage to strategic networking is that it opens the door to new career opportunities. Hiring managers often prefer employees whom they know personally or those who come recommended by current members of their team. Professionals who develop strong networks are more likely to be considered first for new positions as they become available.
Even among professionals not actively seeking job opportunities, networking can be useful. For example, building a broad professional network can help cultivate high-level collaboration, such as on research projects.
Healthcare Networking Strategies
The challenge facing many healthcare professionals, and particularly those who are relatively new to the field, is that developing a robust network takes time. Several tactics can be useful in confronting the challenge of pursuing an advanced network in healthcare.
Networking is all about building relationships, which means no easy path or effective shortcut exists. The only way to build relationships is to be active and intentional in staying up to date with old friends from school, former coworkers, and fellow members of professional organizations.
A good way to accomplish this is by focusing on two or three individuals each week: Take the time to email or message them just to say hello and check on their current career placement. For connections who are local, consider extending an invitation to grab lunch or coffee.
Facebook and LinkedIn, to name only a couple of social media platforms conducive to networking, allow you to connect not only with individuals but also with professional organizations that pertain to your discipline.
Following these organizations on social media can help you to keep current on webinars and professional development opportunities. You can join online chats as well, demonstrating your subject matter savvy to industry peers. Additionally, connecting with professional organizations on social media keeps your finger on the pulse of new health technology trends.
Take every available opportunity to cross train. When you develop a broad range of competencies, you’re better equipped to take on new projects. You can excel as new responsibilities are assigned to you. And you have the chance to work well with people from different disciplines or departments. All of this is important for developing strong connections within your workplace.
And, again, cross training can be an invaluable way to gain exposure to different health technologies and develop your list of skills and proficiencies.
Finally, remain open to new career paths as they come your way.
You may dream of one day becoming head of the health informatics department at a large hospital, but what if you’re presented with the chance to build a new department at a small rural care facility? What if supervisors believe your gifts make you a good candidate for a role in human resources or administration?
Be flexible and willing to at least entertain these opportunities for career growth, even if they aren’t exactly what you’ve planned for.
Organizations for Networking
For people who work in health information technology (IT) or health informatics, joining a professional organization is one of the best ways to establish a wide network. It’s also a great way to keep tabs on important technology trends. The following are a few of the most noteworthy professional organizations that can be of help with networking in healthcare.
American Health Information Management Association
Through affiliation with the American Health Information Management Association, health IT professionals receive ongoing education about the latest ways to connect patients with their providers and to harness technology to improve clinical outcomes.
American Medical Informatics Association
The American Medical Informatics Association provides health information professionals with the latest insights into how data and analytics can improve healthcare efficiency. It also allows for networking opportunities with other professionals in the field.
American Nursing Informatics Association
The American Nursing Informatics Association provides education on how informatics empowers nurses, lowers healthcare costs, and improves clinical results.
American Telemedicine Association
Professionals who join the American Telemedicine Association learn about innovative ways to employ telemedicine. Armed with this knowledge, they can better address rural healthcare needs and apply tools to minimize clinical costs.
Start Developing Your Network
A proactive approach to professional networking in healthcare can pay major dividends, from an expanded knowledge base to promising career opportunities.
A good place to begin growing your network is through enrollment in an advanced degree program, such as the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Master of Science in Health Information Management program. Find out more about how this program helps healthcare professionals forge strong connections.