In the dental industry networking with dental professionals outside out of the practice you work in is invaluable to your career. Whether that means finding a mentor who can help open the door to new opportunities or a mutually beneficial relationship with professionals at other offices in your community (e.g. a general dentist referring patients to an orthodontist and vice versa), connecting with others in the industry helps ensure that you make the most of your dental career.
But in the busyness of your day-to-day professional life you may wonder how to expand your dental circle without overloading your schedule. Fortunately, there are many manageable ways to bump up your networking game that won’t feel like extra work while still allowing you to create valuable connections.
Facebook is filled with groups for various dental professionals that allow an easy way to connect with others in the industry when you have time. These are often more casual groups, built for conversation on anything from the newest technology in the industry to different techniques for working with patients. They’re a great place to ask questions and share any of your insights. Because of this you can easily learn a lot while naturally connecting with like-minded professionals from all over the industry.
LinkedIn is another great social tool that is more aimed at professional networking designed to somehow move around or improve your career. So if you’re an assistant looking to be a hygienist or a doctor who’s losing steam to practice full time but would love to teach, LinkedIn is a great way to reach out to people in these positions and learn about them and how you can get there, too.
Conferences and CE Events (you have to do these anyway!)
Every dental professional needs to participate in Continuing Education events every year. So why not have these events pull double duty and act as networking events, too? Instead of sticking with members of your own practice for the entire event, make a point to reach out to at least two or three other individuals there and see what they do. Not everyone will be overly chatty, but with those who are don’t be afraid to ask questions and get to know them better! If you’ve been having issues with wrist pain during prophylaxis, ask another hygienist if she’s experienced the same thing. And if not, ask how she manages to stay pain free. Or if you particularly liked the presenter of the event and they’re available for questions after the event, go for it. They’ll probably have a wealth of knowledge they weren’t able to share during their presentation and you’ll score a chance to personally connect with a leader in the industry.
Volunteering is rewarding in and of itself, but if you can also use it as an opportunity to make connections with other dental professionals in your community that’s even better. If your office puts on a holiday food drive every year during the holiday season, extend the invitation to other practices in your area. You’ll be able to do more good in your community with the extra hands and form friendly relationships with other offices that could lead to valuable sharing of advice or even referrals if a practice is a different specialty than yours. And, conversely, if there’s a dental event you can volunteer at go for it! You never know who you will meet or what may come out of it.
When it comes down to it, your dental career is what you make of it. And while there’s nothing wrong with staying focused on your practice and patients, stepping out of your comfort zone and connecting with others in the industry will make your career even more rewarding. And as these techniques show, it doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. So get out there and get networking!