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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Professional Networking, Confessions of an Addict!
Brenda J. Hurley, CMT, AHDI-F

Picture a room full of medical transcriptionists, service owners, educators, students, vendors – then I step up to the microphone to say…My name is Brenda and I am a networkaholic. I have tried to cut back, to wean myself from the compulsion that drives me to be in networking situations, but I confess that if being a networkaholic is an addiction, I am guilty as charged.

So what drives me to this? I assure you it is not loneliness or boredom but instead a passion for our profession, and an enjoyment of meeting colleagues. So many times networking opportunities evolve into an interchange of ideas and discussions that result in mutual sharing for all who participate. Fortunately I am not alone in this pursuit of networking as I am joined by many others who have also recognized their addiction and often indulge themselves, as I do.

When searching on the Internet for benefits of professional networking you will find an abundance of articles and books from prominent authors to read and a multitude of Internet links to explore. Instead of compiling quotes and notes from these references, I thought I would instead share my perspective on networking as a non-recovering frequent user.

Education. Simply put, I have learned a ton from others. Listening to MTs who work on other platforms or have used different software applications has given me a better understanding of those systems and processes without having the chance for any hands-on experience. Often there are “tips and/or tricks” that MTs share that can be invaluable and something that I can apply to what I am working on. New references, resources or links are also shared by MTs whether they are networking online or at face-to-face meetings. In many ways we serve each other as a resource – sharing what we have learned with others to improve their outcomes and experiences for our mutual success.

Business connections. Whether you are currently looking for a new position or not, making business connections is important to your future. I have spoken to many MTs who have changed jobs over the last year, unexpectedly or planned, who have directly benefitted from their business connections made through networking; in fact, I am one who did just that. Making business connections is a great way to get your name (and face) in the front of the line when the right opportunity comes along. If you’re a business owner, networking will provide you not only with a pool of highly motivated MTs but it will also provide you with excellent opportunities for exposure for your company.

Friendships. I know that I am not alone when I state that I have made many great friends through professional networking. We have so many common interests that it is only natural that friendships will flourish and new ones will develop. In a profession that has become remote-based in our homes, the camaraderie that we once shared within our hospital MT departments (usually located in the basement) is now missing from our workday, thus making it more difficult to really make friends with our colleagues. Fortunately, we do have this opportunity through professional networking, so be sure to take advantage of it often. I must also add that maintaining friendships is easier through networking since sometimes you don’t need any special planning for getting together. For example, when you go to an association event, you will likely enjoy a gathering of many of your friends while there. A reunion of friends and an education opportunity, all bundled in one trip!

Fun. You can count on me to bring the fun element to the networking equation. Since most of us spend enormous hours in front of our computers while working, getting out for some fun is certainly a real treat! Many of our events do just that - mix the education with a dash of business and add in a little fun to create your professional networking experience. So lighten up – smiles, laughter, and having a good time are important to all of us both physically and mentally. When your “spark” is fading, plug in to networking to get your batteries recharged.

For me, a person who has been a member and involved in the association for a very long time, networking is the ice cream on the warm apple pie – you can have one without the other but together they are truly incredible.

Once you have tried networking, you will too become “at risk” for also becoming a networkaholic, but know that you will be joined by me and lots of your friends. See you at the next meeting!

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