Quick Career Tip: Networking – To create opportunities for yourself, you need to create opportunities for others

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This is a QUICK CAREER TIPS episode: short podcast episodes spotlighting a career tip for public health professionals.

Today’s career tip is on how to create and sustain your network of public health professionals.

Whenever people talk about career growth, the word “networking” is bound to come up. It’s become a standard part of our career culture, but it’s not always a straightforward process: it tends to require a lot of work, especially building and maintaining that network. In today’s Quick Career Tip episode we’ll be talking about what it takes to do exactly that, and how you can do so in a way that eventually pays off.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • How to create a public health network through the spaces and people you already know
  • Why the key to strengthening your public health network is to “give before you receive”

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Episode Transcript

Sujani 0:02
Welcome to PH SPOTlight, a community for you to build your public health career with. Join Us Weekly right here. And I’ll be here too, your host Sujani Siva from PH SPOT.

Hey there, everyone, this is Sujani. And welcome to another episode of Quick career tips, a PH SPOT podcast series that’s intended to give you the insight and tools that will help you take your public health career to the next level. So you’re probably wondering why we are launching are releasing this episode on a Monday typically comes out on a Wednesday. The truth is, I sort of forgot to record this episode. So my apologies. But you know, it’s- it’s coming out late, but it’s here. So if you’ve been a longtime listener of the series, you’ll know just how much of an emphasis we put on networking over here at PH SPOT. That’s because I firmly believe that as social beings, there is nothing more powerful than forging a connection with other people who share common interests and goals with us, or those who have treaded a path that we’d like to one day take. Those kinds of connections, not only make you feel seen, and grounded, they’re also able to uplift you inspire you and give you the freedom to imagine a future that you may not have otherwise envisioned for yourself, right? That’s, that’s why it’s so powerful to see these people. So that’s my very grandiose way of describing networking to you. And the reality is that the word networking has been so heavily overused to a point that it’s probably lost its luster, it’s become such a regular part of business and career speak that it’s almost become a given that everyone should know what networking means or how to do it. But networking isn’t a one size fits all approach, it really looks very different, depending on the circumstances and the situations that you find yourself in. So for example, someone might tell you that they landed a job by speaking to a friend’s uncle at a cottage retreat that they went to. And somebody else might mention that they landed a new role by bumping into the CEO of the company, in their elevator and then striking up a conversation there. All this sounds outlandish, I know. But trust me when I say that things like this can actually happen. Both of these examples are technically forms of networking, but they’re also heavily reliant on two other things, right? Access to more privileged spaces and people, and definitely a fair share of luck. So what happens in the case, if we don’t have access to networking opportunities like these, the short answer is we create them, and we sustain them. If you’re looking to network and develop strong professional and social contexts, that can help you move your career further, then you need to start with the people you know, and the spaces you have access to. And so this can include family, friend groups, neighbors, co workers, and even peers that you’ve worked with, or studied with, who are active in the public health sector. Since they are individuals that you’re already familiar with, it won’t be that intimidating to have a short informational chat with them to learn more about their career in public health. Think of it as a warm up for when you network with complete strangers. And so once you’ve had those first few conversations with the people you know, think of whether they may have access to other people who work or study in public health that they could connect you with. If their connections aren’t all that obvious to you, then no biggie. Just let that person in your social circle know that you’re looking to connect with other individuals in public health and would definitely appreciate it if they could refer you to someone. You’d be surprised how many people you’ll be able to connect with just through referrals from your own personal contacts.

Once you’ve started connecting with people beyond your personal contacts, you’ve essentially gotten the ball rolling on networking. From there, you might find yourself reaching out to complete strangers who you found through LinkedIn or referrals, including those who share a similar identity with you. This includes people from the same university that you graduated from, or people who are in similar clubs, groups or associations that you’re part of or aspire to be part of one day, and you feel consistent with your networking efforts and are scheduling conversations regularly throughout the year. Including when you’re not on the job hunt. You’ll one day be able to take a step back and see for yourself the impressive network that you’ve built. If you’re looking for more Tips on how to have a successful informational interview, then, I would highly recommend you to check out our quick career tips episodes on informational interviews, and the elevator pitch. It takes a lot of work to build and create a network. But what also takes an equal amount of work is keeping that network alive. The people that you network with are most likely speaking to several other folks on a regular basis as well. So it may be hard for them to remember you at times, the key to making sure that you’re top of mind for them when an opportunity does arise is by giving before receiving. So let me break this concept down a bit further. Essentially, what it means to give before you receive is that before you can expect a job offer or opportunity to be offered to you by the person that you networked with, you should provide them with a resource or opportunity as well. Often people graciously give their time to meet with others, but the initial meeting doesn’t guarantee you that you’ll automatically get additional resources from them. They’ve already essentially giving you something super precious their time. So how can you reciprocate beyond buying that coffee for them or sending that thank you note post infill chat, easy. If you read an article or something online that you think might be of interest with them based on things they said during a conversation then share it with them. If you know that they’re working on something, and you’ve heard a podcast episode that has useful tips that might apply to them, share that with them. If you’ve watched a documentary movie video clip that relates to something you talked about or an area, they said they’re interested in exploring further, share that as well. The same goes for events that are coming up and any social media groups that might interest them. Beyond sharing resources, you can also make an impact on the individual and strengthen your bond further, by providing them with professional development opportunities that you may know of or hear of. For example, if there are fellowships, microcredentials or other types of programs that might interest the individual, let them know about it. Perhaps you know of newsletters that shared unique opportunities or thought leadership pieces on an area of interest to the individual. And if so for that their way as well. Maybe you work for an association or group that’s hosting an event and looking for a speaker and you believe that this individual might be a great fit. If so, put their name forward or share that you’d like to put their name forward. And so what I’m getting at is, by sharing these kinds of opportunities with the individual you network with, you not only showing them that you value, their insight and experience, but that you value it so much that you believe it can be of benefit to others as well. Another pro tip is that if the individual is someone you admire and have a growing rapport with, consider nominating them for an award in their field. You know, those kinds of things just take a few minutes of your time, and it would really mean a lot to them. Again, it shows the individual that you see the impact they have on you, but also the impact they have on others. And it’s through these kinds of actions that you can forge an even stronger bond with the individual. And the great part is you can try all of this out today, think of someone that you recently had an informational chat with or connected with. And think of any resources you may have recently come across that would really benefit them, open up your email and just shoot a short message to them. It can be three or four sentences, and it simply lets the person know that you’ve thought about them. And just see where that email takes you. And if you haven’t had any informational chats yet, then let this podcast episode be a starting point for you set a goal to have that informational interview with someone that you’ve been wanting to all this time. And, you know, I found that these informational chats to be some of the most transformative career opportunities for me, especially when I’ve given as much as I’ve received. And so I hope that it can serve the same purpose for you too. And so, so I hope you enjoyed that episode of our quick Career Tip.

And as I mentioned, I am really sorry that this episode came out later than it’s supposed to. I absolutely, you know, just forgot, things got busy. And I hope that this can also show you that it’s okay, that things sometimes don’t go out perfectly. And you know, before you go, I also want to tell you about an excitingly new experience that we’re going to be launching here at PH SPOT. You may have heard a little bit about it in some past episodes that I kind of mentioned. And it’s about the public health career club. Right? So I think I already kind of alluded to this, but when I think back to the successes that I’ve had, and the almost you know, 70 or 80 guests that I’ve interviewed on this podcast, the hundreds of professionals I’ve interacted with a lot of the reflections circle back to having had the right people around us. And I know the power of this, and whether I call it community, I call it my support circle, I call it my public health network. Essentially, what I’m getting at is, you know, the people that I’ve surrounded myself with, and this episode was exactly about that, right? It’s these individuals who are going to lead us to success. And so knowing the power of people, knowing the power of community, I’m so excited to let you know that this month, in October, if you’re listening to this, when this launches, we will be opening up the doors to what we’re calling the public health career club. It’s going to be in a membership experience. And our vision here is to build the largest global public health community. And we’re building the space rooted in community to become the number one hangout spot dedicated to building and growing your dream public health career. And in addition to being able to connect with and build meaningful relationships with other public health professionals from all around the world, the club is also going to offer other great resources for career growth and success. And some of these things are going to be things like mindset coaching, job prep, clinics, career growth strategy sessions, in the form of seminars, and talks. And these are all going to be delivered by experts and thought leaders and inspiring individuals in these areas. And so if you’d like to be part of the founding members, and, you know, take advantage of some of the perks that we’ll be offering our founding members, you can head over to pHspot.org/club. And that’s where we will be sharing more information about this. And I really hope to see you there in the public health career club, because that’s where I’m going to be spending a lot of my time once it launches. And so thank you again for the amazing work that you’re doing in public health, and I’ll see you on the next episode.

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About the Show

PH SPOTlight: Public health career stories, inspiration, and guidance from current-day public health heroes

On the show, Sujani sits down with public health heroes of our time to share career stories, inspiration, and guidance for building public health careers. From time to time, she also has conversations with friends of public health – individuals who are not public health professionals, but their advice and guidance are equally important.

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