Networking Tips for Young ODs
By Melody Huang, OD February 26, 2020
For a recent graduate, networking can be a tremendous asset to your budding optometry career. Benefits of networking with optometrists and other professionals in the industry include:
● Learning about new career opportunities or growing in your current one
● Connecting with established practice owners (if you are looking to open your own practice or purchase one)
● Building a network for support and advice
● Driving business and referrals to your practice
● Discovering which aspects of optometry you are passionate about (and not so passionate about!)
● Learning about non-clinical optometry careers (such as practice consulting or a medical science liaison for pharmaceutical companies)
● Building self-confidence
● Developing marketing and business skills
● Learning about the latest advancements and technologies in optometry
● Finding awesome new colleagues and friends!
Practicing optometry as a new graduate is intimidating enough. Between making the transition from student to doctor, applying all the knowledge you learned in school, and acclimating to a new practice, there is a lot to juggle.
Networking doesn’t have to be complicated or scary, even if you don’t have a lot of years under your belt. In fact, networking can enhance your experience as a young optometrist. Here are some tips to help you up your networking game!
1. Attend conferences. Conferences are an excellent opportunity to meet many optometrists, speakers, vendors, and sales representatives in one place. You can attend a larger, national conference such as The American Academy of Optometry’s Annual Meeting, Southeastern Educational Congress of Optometry (SECO) International, and American Optometric Association’s Optometry’s Meeting. If you are looking to practice in other cities or states, this is a great way to meet optometrists outside of your local area.
Another option is to attend local conferences to network with optometrists in your area. Remember to bring your business cards.
2. Join optometric associations. Participating in your state and local optometric associations can open lots of doors. Most chapters hold continuing education meetings, inform you of upcoming local conferences, and are a source for job opportunities. The leadership in these associations is often well-connected and is an excellent resource if you want to meet influential people in optometry. Attend a chapter meeting and introduce yourself to other members, you never know where that will go!
3. Connect with sales representatives. Don’t forget about establishing a relationship with your local sales representatives. They don’t just bring eye drop samples and contact lens trials to your practice! Get in touch with your rep and let them know what you’re interested in. They work with a large number of optometrists in a wide variety of practice settings, so they may be the first to hear of new job openings or other opportunities.
4. Social media. Though face to face interaction is valuable, connecting online is also a great way to find optometrists in your network, especially colleagues outside of your local area. You can find other optometrists via LinkedIn, Facebook, or even Instagram.
LinkedIn allows you to upload your resume and customize your profile so potential employers can search for you. Facebook Groups are useful for optometrists because many groups post exclusive job openings and offer a platform where doctors can exchange advice. Instagram is excellent if you want to promote yourself or your practice and grow a following. Some optometrists post about the latest eyeglass trends, while others may post unusual medical cases
Whatever you do, make it personal and establish a connection! Keep in mind that while you do want to be true to yourself, other colleagues may see the information you post online, so keep it professional!
Even if you’re an introvert, anyone can network successfully. The next time you’re at an optometry event, set a goal for yourself to talk to at least one or two people. Or, create a social media account and send a quick message to a few optometrists. You might find a lifelong friend or discover your dream career opportunity!