Pharmacy Networking Tips
Tips to help with your pharmacy networking
A lot of times when people think of networking they picture being in a giant room, wearing a suit, and trolling around with a pocketful of business cards. But does real, authentic networking happen there? What is real pharmacy networking? And why is it worth your while?
Networking is just another way of saying that you are connecting with others, hopefully in a way that will be mutually beneficial. The important thing to note here is mutually beneficial. No one wants to feel taken advantage of, or worse, harassed at an event for another’s selfish gains.
What you are really trying to do is create a relationship with another person. As with any relationship, the good ones are built on trust, respect and enjoyment. There are so many benefits to networking or ‘connecting’ that the possibilities are literally endless. They could be anything from learning a tip that helps your clients, to creating a relationship that leads to a job offer or even more. So don’t write off ANY opportunity to create these bonds!
As with anything, there are always ways to improve your people skills and learn to communicate better. Here are a few important things that I have learned to help you during networking events:
1) It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know
Be open to meeting new people. The second you get overconfident and think you know everything, you miss incredible opportunities. I can’t tell you how many people I have met, no matter how intimidating, that fast forwarded my learning curve and propelled me towards success.
2) Expect NOTHING
Networking or creating connections are not as hard as you might think. What makes it hard is when you come into it with expectations (hint: this also applies in real life). When you go to a specific event, be open to whatever possibilities and opportunities present themselves. When you go in with an open attitude you will usually be surprised how much more relaxed you are. When you are relaxed, it is easier to be the real, authentic you. People can feel authenticity. At least, the people really worth knowing. Building relationships is what brings in the quality connections that last a lifetime and can help you achieve your dreams… or at least give you a leg up in a positive direction.
3) Sharing is Caring
You can’t out give a giver. Everyone wants to feel like they are benefiting in a relationship. Figure out what you have in common with that person, talk about it, and find a way to help them out. This makes for some great karma, even if it doesn’t come back to you right away. And the best part is that it doesn’t have to be anything big. You can simply forward them an article on a topic of mutual interest. It lets them know that you value them, and were thinking about them.
4) Know someone that knows someone?
USE that friend!! (Hint: Don’t be sleazy). If there is someone in particular that you want to connect with, then, by all means, put yourself out there. Don’t make life harder than it has to be! Use your connections! Have a friend in common? Great! If you know someone in common, even if it is just an old friend, ask them for an introduction. There is no shame in this. It’s ballsy, shows you really want it, and as long as you are polite and respectful, it almost always works in your favour. Receiving an introduction from a mutual friend or acquaintance can make it easier for you to build that bond, as you already have someone in common. This validates that you are worth listening to. This kind of credibility is great, and relatively easy to achieve. Even if your ‘goal person’ intimidates you, being introduced by a friend will give you that boost of confidence that you need.
5) Collect information!
Collecting business cards almost feels a bit standoffish nowadays, so wait to ask for their information until you have built that connection. If possible avoid literally asking for their card. This is the best approach that I have discovered: ‘I would love to send you a link on that article we were talking about, what is your email?’ This ties into the commonalities that you share, helps build the connection and shows that you are happy to go out of your way to help them. Everyone appreciates someone going above and beyond. If you do collect business cards, write information on the back of the card that will help you to remember who that person is ….especially if you promised to share something with them. This is very important when you are meeting a lot of people in one night.
6) FOLLOW THROUGH
Make sure that you connect with them within 48 hours of meeting. This is a great opportunity to solidify the relationship and to share that article, as an example. Keep in mind that integrity builds trust. At the very least acknowledge that you had a great time chatting with them. For bonus points, if it went really well you can even invite them to lunch! Side note: if you do this, be prepared to pay for them. You invited, you pay.
7) Wear COMFORTABLE clothing
I cannot stress this enough. When you are uncomfortable, you are less assured and feel more awkward. Don’t dress like a slob, but make sure that whatever you are wearing makes you feel empowered and ready!
I cannot express how important networking is, some of us just do it naturally whilst others have no idea. I have met my employers this way. I keep in touch with people who I have connected with. Trust me having a strong network can help yourself and others as well. Sometimes knowing you have helped someone else just makes you feel good. If you can help why not.
I have attended various conferences and meetings through my time in pharmacy. Initially I would sit there and be passive. Let people come and talk to me, and not really care to much about it. I would just leave the event, I didn’t realise that I could tap into the expertise of the people I was amongst to fast forward my career prospects
After some time, I met someone who really inspired me to travel and see pharmacy in a different light. At that point the penny dropped, speaking to people whom I connected with at events really helped me. Go out there and make the most of opportunities that present themselves. Don’t feel scared to say hello, whats the worse that could happen. So what if they ignore you, but if they engage with you then think of the possibilities. That person you say hello to could be the person that inspires you, gives you insight on something that makes you think, or your future employer (yes that has happened to me). It could be a potential pharmacy owner who you could locum for. People are everywhere, putting yourself out there is not the easiest thing to do, especially when starting out in pharmacy. Don’t fear rejection. Go for it, you may surprise yourself at the outcomes.
There are pharmacy events all the time including the Pharmacy Show and Propharmace career fair on the 4th October. You may just read about these and think its not for me. But now you understand the power of pharmacy networking, you can appreciate the value these events can bring to your career.
Hopefully, these tips help you relax about your next networking endeavour. Being at ease and open are the best ways to make a great impression. So remember- you are amazing and have the knowledge to share with the world. Have faith in yourself and your abilities, and go forth and conquer. I look forward to meeting YOU at our next mutual pharmacy networking opportunity!
I’ll leave you with this video. I found this entertaining as I am guilty with few of the “don’ts”. Luckily you have been warned. If you have any other tips feel free to share below (remember tip 3).