Networking: Four Tips for Success

In any career, networking is a vital key to success. We have all heard the saying “it’s not what you know but who you know.”

There is some truth to that statement.

From students to experienced health information management professionals, we could all use a lesson in networking for our own success.

Whether you are a newly certified coder seeking employment or a practiced coding manager at the local hospital, you never know what opportunities exist if you do not network. Here are five tips to get you started:

Seek to Learn

One of the main reasons we network, is to learn about things we do not know exist.

If you are a coding student, inquire with your instructor on job opportunities in your area or search job sites such as careerbuilder.com.

Learn about the types of opportunities that are available. Remember, this is a career, not just a job.

Be in Attendance

The field of health information management offers the greatest of networking tools, professional organizations. Two highly respected organizations in health information management are the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the AAPC.

Both organizations provide an abundance of opportunities for professionals to learn and network. Attend a meeting at your local AAPC chapter or sign-up to attend a state conference. Both organizations also host well-attended national conferences each year. You never know whom you are going to meet and what you are going to learn about advances in the field.

I attended my first AAPC National Conference in 2012 and was able to network with an individual who was looking to hire part-time remote auditors for her company. After conference, I followed up and a quick conversation and exchange of business cards resulted in a fantastic opportunity to earn extra income while keeping my full-time job as an instructor in coding.

Remain Professional

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was always be professional because you never know who is watching. Be cautious on social networking sites; understand that nothing on the internet is truly private. This statement goes beyond social networking; you never know who is sitting behind you when eating dinner at your favorite restaurant on Saturday night.

If you portray yourself in a positive light, it will never come back to haunt you.

Dressing for success is also a topic for professionalism. We all have heard the saying “dress for the job you want, not the one you have.” This statement holds quite a bit of truth.

It may be perfectly acceptable to wear jeans or scrubs to your place of employment; however, how would you feel if the owner of a consulting company came to your local AAPC chapter meeting looking to hire new consultants. The individual wearing black slacks and collar shirt will make a longer lasting impression than the person wearing jeans with a wrinkled t-shirt.

Get Involved

One of the best ways to network is to get involved in your local, regional, state or national professional organizations.  This means doing more than attending meetings and conferences. Run for office or serve on a committee. This is a guaranteed way to find a multitude of networking opportunities.

A colleague of mine decided to become an officer with her local AAPC chapter. As a result of this opportunity, she placed herself in a position of authority and was able to transform her career from a physician coder to a senior consultant for a nationally recognized consulting company. If she had chosen not to get involved, she would still be sitting at a desk in her physician’s office. She now travels all over the United States.

By following these four tips, you will not only be presented with potential opportunities but you will expand your knowledge, increase your confidence and you will get noticed.

Amy Bishard is an instructor in the Medical Billing and Coding program at Cox College Springfield, Mo., and an AHIMA-Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer.

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