THE NEXTDDS Blog

Making Connections: Networking in Dental School and Beyond

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 @ 09:49 AM

networking-young-successful.pngYou might not realize it now, but the friends you make and the faculty that you interact with on a daily basis while in dental school can become lifelong working partners once you graduate. Ever since you’ve made that first connection, you’ve been networking. Your peers might remember you when they see an associateship that’s right for you, or maybe your faculty and alumni might turn into a good mentorship opportunity. No matter how these relationships organically grow once you are out of school, it all begins with building them during those four years.

Actively pursuing networking opportunities might not be something on your priority list. It can sometimes be awkward, unappealing, and not to mention a time-consuming venture. However, it takes more than excellent clinical skills and passing your exams to advance your career. You need to make those connections in order to be vocal about your interests and career goals, and go to events (lunch-and-learns, ASDA, vendor fairs, etc.) that offer these networking or recruiting opportunities.

Your First Contact

If you are passionate about dentistry (i.e., what sets you apart?) and engage with your equally passionate peers, you’re already working on making connections. Many times, dental students think sales pitches, business cards, and hijacking conversations to get in a word are part of the game, but it’s much easier than that. Being an active listener and asking the easy questions that get you into a conversation will fare better for you. Just make sure to follow up at the end of the conversation if you missed anything you wanted to mention, or have any questions for the person to whom you’re talking.

Think of the Person, Not the Position

Being genuine and authentic in your approach to these relationships will also make connecting easier, building trust and seeing what you can do to help the other person and vice versa. Think of these connections in terms of the people involved, and not the potential positions or opportunities that may present themselves at a later date. Find the person’s desires and concerns, and see if you can be of any assistance. Give yourself to your peer before you ask in return. Overall, leave your personal agenda to the wayside, and instead be open, honest, and friendly to everyone with whom you meet.

Build Your Own Network

In addition, don’t dismiss anyone that you meet as unimportant, or that won’t be a connection once you advance in your career. You never know who’ll be valuable, or if someone else you know might need that person’s specific skills and expertise. Once you start to connect the dots with these connections, you’ll soon realize that you’ve created a nest of connections that are all available to one another. Become the center of your network: organize and host meet-ups, social outings, and other events that might bring these different people together.

 

Your network should be in place for when you need it, both for job searching and for moving along the career ladder. Since you never know when you might need it, it makes sense to have an active career network even while you are still in dental school. Networking can help you become a better dentist and having a viable network in place during dental school will pay its dividends. Use this network to your advantage when taking the next step in your life.

Tags: mentorship, networking, mentoring, networking after dental school

Recommendations for Finding and Building a Mentor Relationship

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Sat, Jun 03, 2017 @ 02:00 PM

mentor-mentee.jpgDental students, including some Student Ambassadors for THE NEXTDDS, often describe the importance of finding and a building a relationship with a mentor. For many students seeking this guidance in their early school career, this is easier said than done. Whether it’s a faculty member, a more experienced student, or even shadowing a practicing dentist, how does one create and breed an organic mentor-mentee relationship? If you’ve expressed interest in starting one of these relationships, learn how to begin the process of finding a relevant coach and advisor.

Courtesy of Dr. Cody Mugleston, a recent THE NEXTDDS virtual training event entitled “3 Proven Ways to Find Mentors & Build Leadership Skills” discusses topics such as the importance of mentorship, how to develop leadership skills, building relationships, and pursuing clinical excellence. In his presentation, Dr. Mugleston outlines several recommendations to finding and building a mentor relationship.

How to Begin the Mentor Process

Beginning the mentor relationship is an organic process. Engage with the potential mentor dentist on treatment philosophies and to discover what he or she is most passionate about. What makes your mentor tick? What does he or she strive to do with dentistry? What’s life like outside of work; how is he or she as a person? Make sure to approach him or her first, don’t wait for a mentor to come to you. You can’t just show signs of being coachable, you have to be the catalyst of the relationship.

While you don’t have to come right out and say that you are seeking a mentor, you can instead work your way into their graces, slowly building up that relationship to a point where you are comfortable enough to begin asking those crucial training questions. You can ask questions in order to get help and questions that dig into the personality of your mentor, learning of his or her pathway into dentistry. Some examples:

To solicit help from the mentor:

  • What would you do if you were me in this situation?
  • What should I look to improve on? What do you see as my strengths?
  • What new skills should I learn?
  • How can I communicate more clearly?
  • Who should I go to when following up or to help move my career forward?

To learn more about the mentor:

  • What is an important leadership lesson you learned?
  • How do you embrace failure/setbacks?
  • How do you approach risk-taking?
  • How do you spend your time both inside and outside of the office?
  • How do you best plan for the future?

Once the relationship has been established, start having conversations that will engage the mentor in your development as professional. Ask your mentor to watch you work, and offer you feedback and constructive criticism. Maybe offer a meeting time outside of work to let you pick his or her brain on certain topics? Build your way into the relationship by trusting one another, establishing an open communication, and being assertive in your goals as a mentee with a similar mindset. Be “all in” on the relationship, don’t shut down recommendations from the mentor just because you are not comfortable or have done the approach before. Be a sponge and soak up as much as you can from your mentor, constantly learning to become a better dentist.

 

In order to grow as a dentist, dental students should seek the advice and guidance of their peers and more experienced professionals. Not only will it be a good safety net for diagnosis and treatment planning or how to best approach certain aspects of running a practice, but it can also be a rewarding exercise in networking and being able to get ahead on your professional career. Start looking for mentors now and you’ll be better prepared to handle the pressures ahead.

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Tags: mentor, mentorship, questions to ask, mentoring

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