The primary focus of professional networking is establishing a relationship. It is important for medical students to begin building relationships with peers, professors, and physicians, etc. from the moment they start their medical school journey. The network students develop will come into play during medical school, during residency, and well into their medical careers through research opportunities, letters of recommendation, job prospects or career advancement, and so much more.
Where to Start
How do you begin to build your network? Here are a few ways to create opportunities to connect with new people:
- Introduce yourself to, and communicate with, those you are coming into contact with on a regular basis (peers, staff, faculty, physicians, etc.)
- Ask your close connections for suggestions or referrals of who to contact for opportunities related to your interests
- Attend events that will provide opportunities to meet new individuals (Ex: Mentor Mixer events, Student Interest Group speaker events...)
- Connect with your advisor or RealMD mentor for additional contacts to reach out to based on your goals/interests
- Use available networking platforms like Mentor Connection (for UHealth Faculty and Medical Students) and Forever Utah (For University of Utah Alumni, Current Students and Staff)
Whether you have a meeting set up for shadowing or informational interviewing, or you’re at an event and want to approach someone new, here are a few ways to prepare for those interactions:
- Introduce yourself! Provide more information than just your name (what year are you, your background, your interests, etc.)
- Communicate, or re-iterate, your goals of the meeting or introduction ("I wanted to introduce myself because I am interested in…” or “I’m hoping that today we can talk about…”).
- For an informational interview or shadowing experience, prepare 5-10 questions before the meeting.
- For an introduction, think of your goal of the introduction – do you have a specific question? Would you like their contact information to connect later on?
- Be polite and engaged during your interaction.
You’ve made some new connections, how do you stay in touch or strengthen these connections? Here are some suggestions:
- Send a thank you email after a shadowing or informational interview experience (see sample emails below)
- Follow up periodically to check-in, ask a question, or request to connect in person again, etc.