This post is not about increasing your census.
Think you know a lot of people in the industry? Tired of having to remember new names and faces? Can't keep up with your quarterly marketing plan and stack of randomly collected business cards? Too bad, because if there is one skill that will help you get things done, networking your way through the long term care industry will. Yes, I read Never Eat Alone. It's great if you are a natural, but as this article proclaims, don't network just for the sake of networking.
Here are five real life advantages in the nursing home industry that I have found by making a conscious effort to network:
1. Find the best employees. I met Kim through a friend of a friend through the industry. Kim is a recruiter. At the time I worked for a large corporation that would never authorize use of a recruiting service. Now I am with a not-for-profit with a different viewpoint, and I'm so glad I kept Kim in my contacts profile. And besides professional recruiters, networking with food service reps, consulting agencies, and tech gurus can turn out to be invaluable. Maybe not at the time that you are having the phone conversation or the lunch, but wait six months and that casual relationship may turn into gold.
2. Get the scoop on your former contacts. I would estimate that I have become "friends" with around 100 Nursing Home Administrators in the state of Indiana in the past several years. Big deal, right? Think about how often your "friends" are changing positions. I try my best to NOT call my buddies when I get a promotion (nobody likes a braggart) so we rely on other industry professionals to spread the word of our success. I recently heard about a serious of industry promotions from a source that I would not have expected but definitely trust. Keeping up with this news is important.
3. Find expensive equipment with ease. I need a bariatric lift. Just for ten days though. I could rent it from a third party for around $12.00 per day. I could purchase the equipment for around $2400.00. Or I could call that Executive Director that I met at our Health Care Association meeting last month and borrow their un-used equipment for nothing. Tough choice. Let's help each other, folks!
4. Hold the best inservices in town. I am an expert on _____________. You are an expert on _____________. While I understand that we are trying to differentiate ourselves in the market, if our goal is to provide the best possible services, why aren't we getting together for educational opportunities? I know that I regularly utilize hospice and supplier knowledge for some great educational opportunities. Your vendors are DYING to share their information with their employees; why waste your breath?
5. Shape the field. I am not interested in letting long term care continue down the path that it is going. Innovation is more important than ever. With that being said, I can't do it myself and either can you. Two heads are better than one, so let's have lunch, seriously. Whether you are another Nursing Home Administrator, a lawyer, an M.D., or an Admissions Coordinator, why not have lunch? I'll take in your thoughts, and you can have mine. If we want our field to progress, now is not the time to protect our ideas.
Innovation takes more than one person.