There are opportunities to network virtually everywhere. Since overcoming my fear of talking to people I don’t know, I have met some of the most interesting people in the most unusual places. A trip to the beauty parlor once turned into a great networking opportunity. I was sitting next to a woman and couldn’t help but overhear her conversation. I suspected she was a nurse by the way she was talking and asked her if she was. She looked at me quite surprised and said, “why yes, I am.” We talked, and I learned a lot about hospice nursing, which was her area. She gave me a unique insider’s perspective and we exchanged business cards and still stay in touch. You will make amazing connections and learn a great deal if you take small risks, like I did that day, and talk to more people wherever you go.
Now you should be convinced that networking is important. So how do you get started? Networking involves talking to people and staying in touch with people, so start by setting a goal to introduce yourself and talk to at least one new person at the next meeting you attend. Exchange contact information with him or her and stay in touch. Introduce yourself by saying, “Hi, I am ______, an RN working in cardiac care at City General Hospital. How about you?” Or try starting with an icebreaker such as “Have you ever been to this even before?” Usually the conversation will go from there. With practice, you will eventually feel comfortable introducing yourself.