Networking is crucial to career advancement, no matter what your long-term goals are. Connecting with others in hospital medicine, general healthcare, and business can build your knowledge base, your support system, and your reputation. But how—and why—should hospitalists present themselves to the influential people they need to know?
The Need to Network
You may think it’s not necessary to expand your list of contacts within hospital medicine. Put another way, why bother to network? Vineet Arora, MD, MA, assistant professor of medicine at the Pritzker School of Medicine at University of Chicago, points to a paper, “Strength of Weak Ties,” published in the May 1973 American Journal of Sociology by sociologist Mark Granovetter. In the paper, he presents a social science theory that says “the people who are most helpful to you are those who you don’t know well,” Dr. Arora says. Granovetter’s theory suggests that in marketing or politics, the weak ties enable individuals to reach populations and audiences that are not accessible via strong ties.
“It’s not your friends or the people you know the best who are most likely to help you get a job,” Dr. Arora says. “Those people have already helped you as much as they can.” The main lesson here, she says, is to “think carefully about reaching outside your comfort zone. Introduce yourself to a stranger; it’s to your advantage to cultivate these weak ties.”
To increase your number of “weak ties” in hospital medicine, follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Establish Goals
Consider why you’re networking in order to focus your efforts and target your contacts. Are you looking for a new position? Do you want to transform yourself into the go-to hospitalist in a specific clinical area? Are you looking to learn leadership skills?