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In the business world, networking is integral for survival. Seeing that there are so many jobs available for dentists, networking is not a necessity for securing employment. But if you have your eye on a leadership role or find yourself interested in searching for a non-traditional job in the field, consider networking as a way to burst onto the scene.
Letting conversation evolve naturally while networking gives the impression that you are genuine.
Non-traditional opportunities in the medical field are not widely advertised, so finding these types of opportunities calls for some creativity. Often, dentists with leadership roles or non-clinical jobs are asked or invited to such positions. In these instances, network is everything.
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For many, networking does not come naturally, but luckily, there are some ways to be aggressive without rubbing others the wrong way. For some, a continued effort is required to maintain a balance of assertiveness and amiability.
Be subtle when collecting information
Sometimes networking is done with little time and a sense of urgency. If you find an opportunity to speak with someone whom you consider valuable or knowledgeable, you can end up in “interview mode,” searching for answers to your many questions. However, sometimes peppering potential colleagues with fact-collecting questions can cause people to recoil.
Professional connections are human. Dentists don't normally let conversations flow smoothly at the practice, instead following an agenda aimed at collecting information necessary for a medical history. In general, networking is not like a visit in which you need to collect pertinent data and come to a conclusion. Professional colleagues, particularly if they aren't physicians, prefer a more casual, conversational pace rather than one that is data driven.
Listen and learn
While you might feel the need to network professionally because you want to reach a better position at work or transition out of your current role completely, it is important to consider the needs of others. You can learn more by listening to the specific needs of potential colleagues than by asking pointed questions.
If you ask a doctor in your specialty how much money he earns, you might get some information. But if you find out that he is looking for a partner to cover another hospital in a location that you don't want to drive to, that can be a deal breaker, regardless of the numbers. On the other hand, you might learn that a medical group is looking for someone who can take care of minimally invasive procedures that senior partners aren't trained in. If that is your preference, then the current numbers may matter less than you think.
A senior level program director offers the following advice. If you have trained in a prestigious university, or if you live in a desirable neighborhood, or if you published a peer-reviewed article, you really don't need to remind your connections repeatedly. If you are disappointed that they have not congratulated you, it is more likely that they have mixed feelings about the matter than that they didn't hear you the first or second time. If you really want someone's attention, you can directly ask what they think about your achievement, but reiterating your achievements will likely frustrate you and will most likely not achieve what you are searching for.
Connect with others regardless of the benefits
A very important part of networking involves connecting with others who may have more to gain from you than you have from them.
Making connections for others, even when you might not stand anything to gain, generally takes very little effort and can truly make a difference for people who are looking for professional direction.
There can be more than one winner
When it comes to networking, there can be many people who gain from the process. You wouldn't be surprised to know that as you are interviewing for jobs, a small group of peers is also looking at the same group of jobs. It benefits no one to be secretive or competitive. Often, things fall into place unexpectedly. At the current time, dentists of all specialties have many job options in most cities across America. What’s more, seasoned dentists advise that cooperating with colleagues always works out better than competing. Networking usually results in more than one winner.
Networking is a skill that few people have. Many doctors are surprised to realize how important networking is when it comes to professional success. It is important to enter into any networking opportunity without a me-first attitude in order to maximize benefit for everyone — including yourself.