Maureen Shawn Kennedy sheds light on an important issue in her April editorial. Very few of those numerous virtual contacts will result in meaningful relationships. Even at international conferences, I have only seen a few colleagues mingle with people they have not yet met, thereby missing out on networking opportunities.
I believe that the difficulty in setting this in motion may be related to three key factors. First, social media provides a potential gateway to enhancing interprofessional connections, yet it might render the relationship-building exercise, which is a quintessential step of networking, more vulnerable. Second, as Brian Collins points out, appropriate networking implies that a relationship is mutually beneficial.1 Indeed, while who we know (a key component of social media) is important, who knows us—and how well they know us—is equally significant. This particular point often goes unnoticed in the context of social media. Finally, at the heart of it all lies an inherent need to acknowledge our own limitations, thus validating collegial contributions to foster and sustain networking growth.
As a lead clinical education specialist in charge of orientation, I have staunchly advocated for interdisciplinary collaboration across all units for all staff. This has often been balked at, probably deemed too unsophisticated to appropriately enhance clinical practice. Yet this type of collaboration can strengthen professional relationships and potentially make us aware of our own valuable contributions to the workplace and nursing.
Fabien Wecker, MSN, MA, RN
Woking, Surrey County
1. Collins B. Networking and the power of being connected J Environ Health. 2012;75(3):4–5