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Networking 101 - How to Build your Network

Networking is an important part of planning for your future. The relationships you make now can last for years to come and help you in your career as a dentist. Whether you’re trying to land the perfect job, you need general dentists’ referrals or you’re campaigning for an elected seat on your state association’s board, you’ll want a strong network.

Networking 101

  • Create personal business cards that you can always keep in your wallet. You may be able to obtain these through your dental school or you can make them online. When you meet someone, write his or her name on the back with an interesting detail about his or her personality or background. This will make follow-up much easier. Make sure you reintroduce yourself no more than a week after your initial meeting.
  • Share your passion for dentistry/research/XYZ hobby. When you talk about something that is meaningful to you, it can be contagious. Before you know it, you've had a memorable encounter which is the foundation for a lasting relationship.
  • Don't start a conversation with a "what's in it for me?" mentality. Instead of thinking someone can help you out, try reaching out with curiosity. Contact interesting people and see where the relationship goes down the line.
  • Apply for a chapter or national leadership position to meet people who share your passion for organized dentistry. There are more than 40 opportunities available each year to dental students of all ages (including predentals).
  • Attend national ASDA events to broaden your network outside your local dental school (this is especially useful if you’re considering relocating or going into a specialty). Check out local/chapter events to deepen the relationships with people at your school or district.
  • Get involved at your state dental association. Many offer volunteer opportunities and most host events for dental students to learn about practice management and working with patients.
  • Meet other new dentists at the ADA’s New Dentist Conference. This will connect you with dentists who were once in your shoes but also have experience you can learn from.

Check out these videos from Mouthing Off’s Mingle Monday posts about networking:

Conversation Starters

  1. Smile. It may seem basic, but it's hard not to start a discussion or at least smile back.
  2. "Hi, my name is...." It can be intimidating to approach someone (or a group of people), but push yourself to walk over and introduce yourself. Start with your name and follow it up with an easy-to-answer question like "How do you know the host?" or "What brings you here tonight?"
  3. "I love your [shoes/shirt/necktie]." You'd be surprised how quickly someone's guard can come down when you dish out a compliment. "That was an interesting presentation you just gave" or "That's one of my favorite books you're reading" can go a long way.
  4. "You look familiar." You run into each other at the library or coffee shop several times a week. Why not say hello?
  5. Bring up a timely topic. Talk about a book or movie that just came out, or something big that's happening in the news. Try to avoid religion or politics.

For additional networking tips, download the Art of Networking. This presentation was given by Dr. Chris Salierno, Stony Brook '05, 2004-05 president, at the National Leadership Conference in 2012. View more presentations.

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