IMPERSPECTIVE YOUR PEOPLE by Yael Sara Zofi and Susan Meltzer
Networking skills to make personal connections
Making contacts Promoting something of value
Long-term care (LTC) professionals are wellaware that our jobs, our facilities, and ourpatients’ expectations have radically changed in the past few years. .Although the technical and medical changes in the LTC environment have been profound, our social mechanisms have evolved more slowly. (This is not a unique phenomenon!) With the expanding networks of local regulatory agencies, healthcare providers, community organizations, and fellow providers, to name but a few, we communicate with a wide variety of organizations and individuals in the course of doing our jobs.
What can you do to break through these somewhat impersonal, bureaucratic, or frenetic organizations to get what you need quickly and efficiently? Not surprisingly, you’ll find most people are responsive when they have a personal relationship with you. That translates as building solid networks to draw upon to get results. Connections are the coin ofthe realm, and the secret is to know how to make those connections work for you. In other words, develop your networking skills to make personal connections that can make your job easier.
What is networking? Networking is really small talk with a target. Net- working is one of the critical skills necessary to be
successful on your job. Even if you would characterize
NETWORKING IS NOT
Selling Being impersonal
Asking assertively and offering graciously Manipulating
Giving with no expectation
A way of life
your current n e t w o r k i n g abilities as ef- fective, you may feel that certain areas could be
improved upon. Some examples are: ways you com- municate, how you handle personality differences, or persuade others. The secret is knowing how to turn casual conversations into useful connections.
• …the deliberate process of exchanging infor-
mation, resources, support, and access in such
a way as to create mutually beneficial alliances
for personal and professional success.
• …building the right relationships with the right
people to provide information, support, influ-
ence, and development.
• …creating collective environments where
people learn from each other, share resources,
and build positive working relationships.
Types of networks Human beings are social animals and we engage in a variety of interactions with others. Therefore, we have several different types of networks to enhance our personal as well as professional lives. Here are the four types of networks that define our relation- ships with the many individuals on whom we rely, and who, in turn, rely on us.
1. Personal networks. Your family, friends, and close associates. You usually choose these types of networks through mutual interests, liking, and long-term connections. Personal networks are more social than other types of networks, and are based on exchange of help and support.
2. Organizational networks. Business teams, project groups, committees, and councils. These networks are focused on whom you need to know in your facility in order to meet objectives within a specific time frame. These networks are based on power, knowledge, and influence. Onestrategy when joining a new department or facility/provider is to identify as quickly as possible the organizational network—especially those with power (overt and covert) and influence.
3. Professional networks. Colleagues, peers. Professional networks are based on common work interests and tasks in the world of long-term care.
42« JANUARY 2010 WWW.LTLMAGAZINE.COM
and are about what people know. They can be internal or external, such as professional network organizations.
4. Strategic networks. External contacts and connections. With increased complex- ity, regulation, and patient expectations, look to form or join alliances with indi- viduals from organizations as varied as community institutions, local regulatory agencies, nearby hospitals, or clinics.
To summarize, networks are…
• comprised of people and groups
• flexible and permeable
• powerful for generating solutions,
seizing opportunities, and getting
• vehicles for professional development
• keys to dispensing high-quality care
Four stages of networking Now that you are familiar with the different types of networks, it is important to under- stand how your networking relationships get established. Networking is a process; it is the opposite of an instantaneous or isolated incident. Networking takes time, effort, and careful nurturing of the relation- ship to bear fruit. That is, after selecting a group of people who can contribute to your professional life—and to whose success you can contribute—you work on building the relationship.
Consider the networking process as consisting of four different stages: Get- ting, Exchanging, Understanding, and Mutual Benefit. This process is a building block of four steps, with Mutual Benefit being the highest step, or stage. Look at each stage:
• STAGE 1: Getting
Networking is not just about tak-
ing, although it is true that beginning
networkers usualiy focus on “what’s
in it for me.” Most people who begin
to network focus, at least initially, on
trying to get something for them-
seives. There’s nothing wrong with
wanting your efforts to pay off. But
that’s only part of the story. The best
networkers approach the process
from the point of view that they want
something and they want to be a
valuable contact in turn. Think of your
own experiences with people. When
someone helps you, don’t you want
to give back even more than you
got? That’s just human nature!
‘ STAGE 2: Exchanging
The point of networking is to ex-
change something of value. Trades
do accomplish that. The taking and
trading stage usually produces a one
time networking outcome—you gave
and got something. For example,
you may have created a simplified
checklist for your facility which may
be equaily useful at a state associa-
tion. The smart networker doesn’t
stop here—she or he works to create
a networking reiationship out of this
‘ STAGE 3: Understanding
This phase builds the relation-
ship by teaching other people what
you need—and learning what they
need. Take the time to be inter-
ested in your person and his/her
concerns. Put your antenna up for
resources, ideas, tips, information,
or access that you could give to the
contact. For example, if your facility
hired a terrific design firm to create a
comfortable and practical recreation
room in a small space, why not invite
a peer with similar space challenges
to see it?
Remember the old adage, “It’s
not what you know, it’s who you
know.” This is too simple for a
savvy networker What you know
is important. It’s your skills, experi-
ences, knowledge. Who you know
is important, too. These people are
your resources for ideas, refer-
rals, references, and assistance in
general. More important than what
and who you know is who knows
you. Networking is about making who
knows you as important as what you
know and who you know.
• STAGE 4: iVIutual Benefit
This is the stage when the relationship
becomes most valuable. All relation-
ship networking aims for mutual trust,
so that when each party recommends
the other, it can be done knowing that
this contact will reflect well on the
individual making the recommenda-
tion. For example, you can establish a
relationship with an appropriate indi-
vidual who works at a neighborhood
hospital, perhaps working together on
an issue that affects both institutions.
Conclusion Now that you are familiar with the differ- ent types of networks, and the incremental stages that culminate in a win-win outcome for you and your networking partner(s), you’re ready to create powerful networks of your own. You, your facility, residents, and colleagues just may find some “angels” out there to lend assistance when it’s needed most. •
Yaei Sara Zofi is the Founder and CEO of AiM Strat- egies® (Appiied innovative Management®), a New York City-based people management consuiting firm focused on bringing appiied bebavioral science techniques to managing businesses in beaitbcare and reiated fieids. Sbe recentiy pubiished a bookiet on networking caiied, “Work YourNetwork:i/laking impactfui Business Connections” which is avaii- abie via Amazon or through the AliVI Web site. Her healthcare ciients inciude iarge pharmaceutical organizations as weil as hospitais and medicai f acui- ties. Before establishing AliVI Strategies® in 1998, she was the Giobai Vice-President of Performance Management, Leadership, and Organizationai Deveiopment for J.P. Morgan. As a Professor at New York University, she designed and taught the courses “Leadership and Business Transforma- tion,” “Leadership and Management Skills,” and “Management Principies and Ethical Practices.” Susan Meitzer has worked in the HR field for more than 25 years. For further information, visit www. aim-strategies.com. To send your comments to the editor, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
WWW.LTLMAGAZINE.COM LONG-TERM LIVING • 43
Copyright of Long-Term Living: For the Continuing Care Professional is the property of Vendome Group LLC
and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder’s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.