Professionals Networking

Making the Most of Networking on PT Travel Assignments

The thought of “networking,” as it’s traditionally described, might hold some physical therapists back from making important connections while on a PT travel assignment. But a leading career expert and self-described introvert says it’s important not to let that happen. With a little encouragement and the following tips, anyone can learn to successfully meet colleagues and form those important relationships.

“Real networking is about meaningful, mutually beneficial connections, one person at a time,” said Devora Zack, author of Networking for People Who Hate Networking, Second Edition: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed, and the Underconnected. 

The Keys to Successful Networking in Healthcare

Networking does not entail self-promotion or using other people to get ahead, Zack said.

Zack proposes a new method of networking, which begins with understanding oneself, honoring that, and working with one’s natural predisposition. She suggested practicing some answers to predicted questions and arriving at a networking event early when there are fewer people in attendance, and it is rather quiet.

“It’s networking in a way that works for you,” Zack said. “There are different solutions to the challenges people face … [They] can be themselves and be successful.”

The quality of the connection remains more important than the quantity of new people met, Zach said. She suggested setting a goal of meeting one to two people at an event, even if that feels like a stretch. Then stay in touch with those new people.   

Additionally, and extremely importantly, Zach said, successful networking depends on following up after the initial meeting. Maybe send the person an article you had discussed or leads or something else meaningful.

“If you are not following up, you are not networking,” Zach said. Embrace “meaningful follow-up and position yourself as being helpful.”

Then keep in touch to maintain those new relationships. Remember birthdays or other key events in other people’s lives. Reach out when you discover something that might be of interest to the person. For instance, if the person roots for a specific sports team, send a note when they

win, offering your congratulations. Or if the person has an interest in the arts, send a relevant article when you see one.

Networking in healthcare can assist physical therapists in meeting their professional and personal goals. It offers the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships among people who are there for each other.

“It’s about being helpful and positive and how you can help other people meet their goals,” Zach said. “Networking is about creating a community for yourself.” 

Engaging with Professional Organizations

One of the best methods of networking in healthcare remains joining and becoming active in professional organizations. For PTs, that means the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)

“APTA offers members high-quality educational opportunities, experiences, and networking that enable professional advancement and leadership growth. Membership is an investment in the profession’s future,” said Drew Contreras, PT, DPT, vice president of clinical integration and innovation at the American Physical Therapy Association.

PTs on travel assignments can join APTA, serve on committees, and volunteer with the organization. Members can attend chapter meetings and conferences and make connections with fellow PTs, enabling the PT to share ideas.

Being active and contributing to the organization helps in building a stellar reputation, so volunteer for projects or committees. But do not sign up for things and then not follow through.

Building Relationships with Colleagues

 While on travel assignments, physical therapists can develop relationships with colleagues working with them at various facilities. When it’s time to move on to the next assignment, keep in touch. Many travel professionals end up with friends across the country.

The network a PT traveler builds can prove beneficial when considering working in a new setting or location or making other changes from a current travel assignment. For instance, if a physical therapist is thinking about moving from practicing in a geriatric facility to a pediatric setting, networking with PTs already working with children can provide some insight into rewards and challenges in that setting.

Connecting with Physical Therapy Mentors

Physical therapy mentors can help PTs grow professionally. More seasoned PTs can provide valuable insights, support and advice. Find someone who has like-minded ideas.

APTA sections, referred to as academies, focus on special interest topics or practice and policy issues. They offer different levels of mentorship – from one-on-one clinical mentorship to structured mentorship and peer-to-peer programs.

Physical therapy mentors can help less experienced PTs think about a situation in a different way or offer additional resources. The mentor can challenge a mentee to identify new opportunities or pursue a long-held dream position.  

When on a travel assignment, some facilities may assign a staff PT to help guide you and answer questions, but you can also establish relationships with others who are willing to share their time and expertise.

Using Social Media and Online Networking Platforms

In addition to face-to-face contact, the Internet has become a key tool to connect with fellow physical therapists and network in healthcare. Look on social media platforms, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, for PT groups. Create interesting content relevant to the people in your network.

APTA offers an online community, called the APTA Hub, for members serving on various committees. The professional organization’s Member Success team chats with members for support issues. Members of APTA also connect for professional networking on the LinkedIn platform.  

Building Your Network as a PT traveler

Whether you are already working as a physical therapist traveler, or are considering making a switch, AMN Healthcare has hundreds of assignment options that offer interesting work with growth opportunities. You can choose when and where you work, explore new locations and build your professional network. Our dedicated team will also be there to help you every step of the way.

Find PT Travel Jobs or Apply Today 

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