3 Ways Networking Can Be Accomplished in Your Career Field
Networking as a Dental Assistant
For those of you who follow the Dental Office Assistant Discussion Board you are already aware of the importance of networking. We are very fortunate, in the dental profession, to have so many avenues for professional support systems. The dental community is one big family and we do look out for, and assist, each other.
How Networking Can Be Accomplished
The fastest and easiest way to begin networking is to join your professional organizations. The American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) is open to all dental team members, not only dental assistants. We are all part of the same team, all working together for the betterment of our patient’s dental health.
By joining a professional organization like the ADAA you will be part of something bigger than yourself. Your membership in ADAA makes you not only part of a national organization but a membership in your state and local dental assisting societies as well. A connection to grassroots. Local meetings with local people in your area who can guide and mentor you. Do not be afraid to ask for advice.
COVID put a damper on live meetings but those are beginning to return. Your state dental assisting association is required to hold annual meetings and those usually accompany an educational seminar. ADAA members receive discounts on those meetings. Take advantage of this. Go to as many live continuing educational courses as you can. Your dentist, dental hygienist, and expanded function dental assistants are all required to take continuing education to renew their state licenses. Ask if you could take a class with them.
A lot of courses offered to dentists also run courses for staff at the same venue. Talk to people. Listen. I cannot tell you how many times I learned more at lunch, talking with staff from other offices, than I learned during the seminar. Experience is an excellent teacher. If you cannot find a live course in your area, then look for live webinars. You can talk to people on ZOOM just like you can in person. The ADAA offers one-hour live webinars every month.
Networking Through (AADOM)
The American Association of Dental Office Managers (AADOM) is a great organization that is open to front office staff and not only managers. They are having their 2021 national convention in Orlando, Florida in September. If you ever need to feel the energy of people truly excited about working the business side in a dental office, then talk with these people.
Visit the exhibit tables of computer software companies, marketing agencies, dental clearing houses, insurance companies, the list is endless. You will have the opportunity to “play” with different programs and see new ideas. Even though you may not make decisions about such matters at least you can see what else is out there.
The best part is there will be office people who use this or that program/company, and they will give you their honest opinion. The sales representative may not like it, but staff can be brutally honest. Exchange business cards then call the team member later if you have more questions. I keep in touch with people from all over the country that I met for the first time at a dental convention. This is how you begin to build professional relationships.
Networking Online and Through Social Media
Professional resume and network building can be done on social media platforms like LinkedIn. Read posts, join social media groups, and look at different offices. You will begin to see the same names popping up on different sites and platforms. Follow them, read their opinions, find people whom you like and learn from them.
One of the biggest dental Facebook groups is Dental Peeps. They have both national and regional pages. I have seen people ask the group their opinion about a certain dental product or program and you would be surprised the number of respondents from all over the country. Just be careful about what you post—social media safety is an entire topic in-and-of itself. The number of dental sites on social media is staggering.
Looking for employment can be a scary and daunting task but, then again, networking can be your biggest ally. Check out sites like DentalJobs.net where you can read about job openings as well as post your resume. Employers will be seeking you. You worked hard to get where you are today—take pride in yourself. Be proud of that resume.
Networking Through Your Skills
One of your strongest skills, as a dental office assistant, is communication. You talk with every patient when they come into your office, but do you take the time to talk with the dental sales representative or dental lab tech? Not only do they come into, or call, your office but a lot of other offices. They can introduce you to people in other offices that share your same interests.
Your office may be thinking about changing to a certain telecommunication system, well your dental sales representative knows that Suzie at Dr. Jones office uses that system. He can connect the two of you to discuss the pros and cons. All you must do is take the time to talk to people—be friendly.
Last, but far from least, in the networking circle is your school. Your admissions officer, job placement specialist, the person who answers the phone, they all have contacts that have contacts. People know people who can help you along the way. Reach out to those around you—you will see it is not that hard to start your own network on your way to a successful career.
Written by Colette Jesikiewicz CDPMA, FADAA