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by Swapnil Pawar and Mike Gisondi
What is Networking?
Networking is the sharing of ideas through a conversation between individuals who have something in common. It’s that simple. The word, ‘networking’, carries a negative connotation, an activity carried out by the ruthless to get ahead. Not true of networking in medical education.
The wonderful example of the power of networking in medical education is ALiEM: Academic Life In Emergency Medicine. ALiEM is a globally distributed digital community of practice hosted as a blog and podcast out of the United States.
The organization has grown and enriched over the past 5 years as educators join the volunteer staff and give of their talents. ALiEM faculty share common interests and they are passionate about medical education, innovation, technology, and disruption.
Why bother networking as an educator?
You can be a passive consumer of medical education, knowledge, and perhaps even skills and attitudes through social media. You can be a learner who seeks out these various sources of professional development and curate material on your own. In a consumer-only model, you really contribute nothing to the conversation.
Perhaps networking through social media and medical education becomes an even more useful tool when you contribute as much as you take away — if not more.
Medical education is a discipline, far bigger than one can master on his/her own. We know a lot from team science and the business world that we work better in teams, we get better results, and we advance our careers better if we demonstrate good team behaviour and we collaborate well with others.
Networking truly is just entering a conversation, explaining who you are, describing your skills and interests, and then seeing if the person you are interacting with shares something in common. The initial conversation turns into one of powerful networking when you identify what you want to achieve, potentially together, and that perhaps you can help one another reach a goal, in some small way.
What are the attributes of successful networking?
So, what are you waiting for? Seek out opportunities to connect with your peers, learn a little something, give of your talents, and redefine the experience of networking as a medical educator.
Listen to the Podcast with Mike Gisondi