I know a lot of medics. I have six years of medical school to thank for that. I'm not complaining - some of them are my closest friends, and in the future i'm sure i'm gonna be hitting a lot them up for medical advice. But i'm worried that my personal network is excessively comprised of this professional group.
As i've taken my tentative first steps out of the medical profession, there's several things i've realised I needed to start building. STAMP (obviously) is one of them. My personal network is another.
The question is how.
I'm not a great networker. Unless i've been introduced to someone, I struggle to approach people and throw out a cold-open. Of all the events i've been to where there's been an opportunity to network, i've probably squandered or wasted the chance to meet some interesting people. So when a friend mentioned a website that helps you connect with interesting people in a variety of fields, I was naturally intrigued.
Its not LinkedIn (but hit me up at linkedin.com/wrightsandy)
Its called JamieApp, and its actually brilliant. Like all great ideas, its the sort of thing that you hear about and say "why the f*ck hasn't this been a thing for longer". Basically - its networking and coffee. Let me describe the process:
- Go to the website and fill out your deets. I recommend being honest. Sure you can write your 'about section' with the aim of trying to meet certain types of people, but don't limit yourself. This is a great resource and you're gonna have tonnes of opportunities to meet some great people
- Await your first email. It normally comes through on a Monday or a Tuesday. "Are you free for coffee on Friday?" Think about whether you're free for coffee on Friday and send them your response. Simple
- Await your confirmation email. It'll probably be Thursday. You'll get an email. JamieApp is copied in along with your chosen coffee buddy. Jamie suggests a time and a place but hey, you're connected now so feel free to message your date and mix it up a little.
- Do a bit of research. You'll probably be given their LinkedIn details or something. Take a minute and gem up on who they are and what they do. It only takes a second and gives you conversation fodder for those first awkward moments.
- rrive at the specified location at the specified time. Try not to be late. Initiate conversation. Be polite. Enjoy.
- Rinse & repeat. The process starts again the following week.
This week I had my first coffee meeting. Guess who I met. A medic. Waste of time? Absolutely not. I met a guy who, like myself, had left the medical profession to pursue his entrepreneurial aspirations. He had resigned himself to the idea that in order to have a positive impact on health and healthcare in this country, he would have to do it from outside the public health service.
For a couple of hours we talked about his business, the products he was creating, the difficulties he had experienced both in leaving medicine and setting up on his own. His insights into STAMP and my journey so far were invaluable. An outside perspective, devoid of any bias was refreshing, especially coming from someone with a similar background to myself.
I came away from that meeting feeling content. It had been two hours well spent and I know had a new contact in my network. Sure it was another medic, but our shared background has given me new resolve to work hard on my business and my ideas.
The friend who introduced me to JamieApp in the first place described the concept really well. Networking that occurs through your friends and colleagues is very linear and isn't the most efficient way to meet and connect with new people. What JamieApp does is plonk you out in the unknown - away from your current network - with a random person. Depending on your schedule it can keep doing the same each week. If you cultivate that new connection you'll start to build mini-networks around these individuals. Opening yourself up to new opportunities and relationships that you may never have previously come across.
I've done it once now and i'm hooked - excited to see what the next meeting will bring. I recommend you at least give it a try. Worst case scenario, you spend a little bit of your time drinking good coffee with someone you'll never see nor speak to again. Best case scenario? Well the opportunities are limitless right?
Till next time
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