When you travel from location to location as part of your job, you may start to feel disconnected from those around you. If you’re like me, you want to be connected to something, if for no other reason than to know that other people understand where you’re coming from. Social networking can help you to meet other travel healthcare professionals, both online and in person.
If you haven’t already been invited to join Facebook by half a dozen of your former classmates from high school and nursing school, you’re in the minority. Facebook isn’t specific to any particular industry or group. You can create a profile and connect with any number of people from your past by adding them as friends: elementary and high school friends, college and graduate school classmates, former coworkers, or even just fans of the same bands and movies you like.
I’ve gotten in touch with a number of people on Facebook that I hadn’t thought about in years. (Just wait until your birthday rolls around. It’s interesting to see who thinks to send you a happy birthday message. Some people care about you more than you might think!) I’ve even had a few job leads from Facebook friends I never would have thought to approach when I was looking for work.
I love Twitter. Twitter is a cross between a chat room and a micro-blogging service that allows you to have conversations with people across the world in 140 characters or less. Each message you send is called a “tweet.” When you want to connect with someone on Twitter, you can follow them, and they can follow you back; this is much like when you add a friend on Facebook.
Unlike Facebook, you don’t get a big profile page; you only get 140 characters to create a bio. Twitter is mainly used to carry on conversations. You can search for and follow other people in your industry, and you can generally find someone online at any time of day or night when you want to talk, which is great for people who do shift work. You can use Twitter to tell people about your day, to share links to Web pages you find interesting, and find out what other people are talking about.
To maintain your professional relationships, you’ll want to create a profile on LinkedIn. LinkedIn serves as an online resume. Unlike traditional paper resumes, not only can you list your education and work experience, you can display recommendations from other LinkedIn users concerning your past employment. This can be very helpful, as you don’t need to track down references when applying for work; you can simply send them a LinkedIn recommendation request. Don’t forget to return the favor!
You can also join professional groups on LinkedIn. Search for groups related to your line of work, and you’ll be introduced with other professionals who you can share information with and maybe even learn about some job openings that might not be available to the public.
Nurses have a social network of their very own called NurseLinkUp. Connect with other nurses to vent, commiserate, make career connections, or just socialize with. The community forum includes discussion topics like humor, activism, nursing technology, nursing gear, medication questions, case discussions, and more. It even has a section for nursing students. NurseLinkUp also has a presence on Facebook.
No matter what social networking tools you decide to use, remember to use your judgment and act responsibly. The Internet has a long memory, and sharing scandalous spring break photos with your college friends on Facebook could cost you a job opportunity later on down the road when a potential new boss looks you up online. Likewise, be civil in your Twitter conversations. Debates can become heated, especially when conversations turn toward issues like religion and politics. You can participate in these discussions, but try to remain calm and objective. You don’t want to offend your followers, who could be people you have to work with each day, or people who might want to hire you tomorrow.
Like in grade school, remember to play well with others, and you should do fine. It’s great to get out there and meet new people in your field! While you’re building up your network of relationships, why not check out the job opportunities at Sunbelt Staffing?