Editor’s note: This is part two of a three-part series on networking. The final installment will run in the April issue of ENTtoday.
Explore this issue:February 2018
The road to bad networking is paved with good intentions.
Hundreds of early career otolaryngologists and hundreds more residents arrive at regional, state, and annual meetings of the Triological Society, the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS), and any number of various other otolaryngology-related organizations. They tell themselves that by showing up, they are already taking more initiative than many of their brethren. While this may be true, truly succeeding requires more than just showing up.
These otolaryngologists introduce themselves, make contacts, and swap business cards like baseball cards.
Then they go home, satisfied. They’ve done everything right, right?
“It’s not what you know or who you know; it’s how well you know each other that really counts,” said Ivan Misner, founder and chairman of BNI (Business Network International), a Charlotte-N.C.-based three-decades-old global business networking platform that has led CNN to call him “the father of modern networking.”
“Meeting people at events … is only the start of the process,” he added. “It’s not the end of the process by any means if you want to do this well.”
In fact, otolaryngologists interviewed by ENTtoday said that to get the most out of meetings, you must start preparation weeks, or even months, in advance, and preparation continues for months after.
Gavin Setzen, MD, AAO–HNS president and a private-practice otolaryngologist with Albany ENT & Allergy Services in Albany, N.Y., said that meetings have become more compressed, with more demands on attendees’ time. Those who fail to plan ahead may find themselves unable to accomplish their goals.
“There is a strategic approach to networking that makes it that much more effective and optimizes the outcomes,” he said. “There are multiple competing activities at the annual meeting, for example, and certainly competition for time—especially face-to-face time—is challenging. Oftentimes, two or three days will come and go very quickly, and one may find that they have not achieved the goal that was planned. For me, it is important to establish what those networking goals are in the weeks leading up to a particular meeting.”
Sometimes, that planning is as easy as culling through a meeting schedule and choosing ahead of time which session to attend and when, or which speakers to listen to and when. But when you approach someone after one of those sessions, it’s important to be prepared for that conversation as well, said Stacey Ishman, MD, MPH, surgical director of the Upper Airway Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.