You are here:--Build a dazzling nurse network and fortify your nursing career

Build a dazzling nurse network and fortify your nursing career

Building a strong nurse network of “stars” can brighten your nursing career possibilities.

Another shift done, Sara stumbled into her apartment. Catatonic, she sat in her kitchen, tired of her job, sick of her boss and unhappy with her career. She felt alone.

Then the phone rang. An upbeat, energetic voice filled the room. The call was from Mandy, a newly discovered colleague, who wanted to know if Sara wanted to accompany her to an informational seminar at a local university that had just started a new graduate degree program in their shared specialty. Mandy was so contagiously excited over this program that Sara couldn’t say no. As Mandy lifted Sara out of her funk, she exemplified why every nurse needs a well-developed network.

Networks can pull us up out of ourselves. They represent endless possibilities. If well chosen, the people in our networks light up our careers with countless career options like constellations in the sky. And like stars in the sky, the darker the background, the brighter the possibilities.

When I address students at my yearly National Student Nurses’ Association lecture pilgrimage (it is like that for me), I always stress the importance of hanging out with winners by building a network of professionals who are on fire with their careers. One sure way to do that is to participate in professional organizations. I always advise students to join the American Nurses Association, because, well, that is the national organization that purports to represent all nurses, regardless of specialty or education. I also tell nurses to join their specialty organization, because beyond the benefits of networking, nurses need to stay current in their specialty practice, and this is one way to do it. I only mention joining two organizations to the students, but I really mean many. I just don’t want to startle anyone with too much, too soon. My counter to those who would remind me that multiple memberships are expensive is that this is an investment in the future, insurance against an uneven job market in which you can find yourself unexpectedly jobless. For this reason, you need to be locked in the minds of colleagues who might have access to available jobs. And some professional dues can be used to offset taxes (ask your tax preparer, don’t quote me).

You also can build a network without ever participating in anything beyond social media. For example, apart from my “face” network, I have built a large group of contacts through Facebook and its pages, as well as LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, Instagram and a Google group. My annotated phone and e-mail lists contain other groups of colleagues. And these folks just represent primary contacts whom I can reference and use to gain access to thousands beyond.

Here’s how to create and maintain a vibrant network:

    1. Create networking options by joining at least two professional nursing organizations.

    2. Keep yourself visible by attending at least one monthly meeting of something.

    3. Learn to work a crowd and introduce yourself to anyone and everyone.

    4. Collect business cards and then enter them into your electronic database, so you can throw them away.

    5. Add as much individualized data into your electronic database as possible to trigger who that person is when you encounter her or him again.

    6. Update your database routinely when someone moves or changes jobs.

Remember that networking is a two-way street. Along with having a network is an obligation to cultivate it. People who help me along the way are duly noted for future return favors. And as a favor to me, please friend me, Robert G Hess, Jr, on Facebook. I’m still trying to get to 5,000 friends!


Courses Related to ‘Networking Tools’

CE166-60: Networking for Career Advancement
 (1 contact hr)

Networking is one of the most important career-building tools available to any professional, including nurses. So whether a nurse is hunting for a job, seeking a promotion, running for office, starting a business, seeking consultative work, pursuing higher education, entering public service or writing for publication, networking is an effective sales and marketing strategy for building a positive power base to attain long- and short-term career goals. This educational activity will provide guidance on networking for career advancement.

CE691: Social Media
 (1 contact hr)

For many of us, social media is a fun way to stay in touch with friends and family. We share photos and stories with people across town and around the world. But we need to be cautious as we engage in social media. It can affect our careers in ways we never would have imagined. Content taken in the wrong context can damage our professional reputation. This module helps you learn how to use social media like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Blogs to boost your career. It will also provide tips to avoid social network “career busters” and compare sample sites to help you choose the site that best meets your needs.

By | 2021-05-07T15:13:08-04:00 July 21st, 2017|Categories: Nursing Careers and Jobs|6 Comments
Robert G. Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN
Robert G. Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN, is OnCourse Learning's executive vice president and chief clinical executive. He also is founder and CEO of the Forum for Shared Governance ( As an editor for, Hess penned editorials on career topics. As a presenter at professional conferences, Hess often addresses participants on how to find the right job and steps for building a successful career.


  1. Avatar
    Alexandra Handakas July 30, 2017 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    I am a RN with over 20 years of experience. I unfortunately fell into the never ending cycle of the impaired nurses hell. I tested positive for cocaine back in 1997. I was placed on a year probation. I again failed for marijuana, but was not informed of this until I had written to the nursing board for reinstatement. The board let me continue paying for and submitting quarterly reports for 10 months after supposedly testing positive. I never stopped growing in my field and I excelled, becoming an Administrator and supervisor, for most of my nursing career. I wanted to pursue getting my license back but now due to back injuries, I am on opiates for pain control. Is there any jobs that I could persue given my education and experience, that does not require licensure?

  2. Robert G. Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN
    Robert G. Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN August 1, 2017 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    Alexandra — I don’t have all of the information that I need to respond to your post, such as what you have been doing in detail as an administrator and supervisor and your educational background.

    I would be happy to continue this discussion offline if you send me an email at [email protected]


    Dr Bob, RN

  3. Avatar
    Wiliam Otundo September 2, 2017 at 3:32 am - Reply

    I have a BSN, RN in the state of Pennsylvania. I have applied to work in acute areas like ED, Surgery or Cardiac units but unfortunately every institution I have submitted my resume require me to have at least one year experience in these specialties. My problem is where do I gain experience if none is willing to provide me with the opportunity for training and orientation. I currently settled on psychiatry since I had to start paying my student loan but still has the passion to work on the afore mentioned areas. To this end therefore, I will highly appreciate if you may advise or point me to the relevant places.

    • Robert G. Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN
      Robert G. Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN September 5, 2017 at 11:45 am - Reply

      William – I assume from your post that you are a new grad. If so, just keep trying, because there are paid internships out there in specialty areas like you are citing. You may have to relocate or wait a bit. The fact that you are working anywhere is strengthening your resume for when a job pops up. Just keep looking. Sorry. No magic bullet except to try and and expand and mine your network.

      Good luck.

      Dr Bob, RN

  4. Avatar
    M Maguire April 11, 2018 at 11:43 pm - Reply

    I have 28 years of nursing experience (Shock/trauma, educator for LPN program, health care coordinator long term care) I am interested in research (CRA etc) but requires at least one year experience…so frustrating do not consider my nursing experience. Any suggestions?

    • Robert G. Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN
      Robert G. Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN April 12, 2018 at 1:28 pm - Reply

      I need more information. Are you not even getting an interview, because I think I would capitalize on your education background as someone who could quickly learn the ropes of clinical reseach. A cursory look at some posted jobs don’t even require a master’s degree and only ask for a couple of years of healthcare experience, so maybe your barriers are regional. Keep trying.


Leave A Comment