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PT Networking is About One Thing

Whenever I hear the word networking, I think of a stuffy black tie event full of fake smiles, poorly fitting suits, and conversations struck up only so that business cards can be exchanged. Appealing? Not one bit. Networking, as I traditionally viewed it, ranked right up there with studying for the boards and learning about the Krebs cycle. No thanks. However, in the past year and a half I launched my own brand, The Movement Maestro, and came to understand, and actually love, the power of networking.

Networking is about developing relationships

The change of heart occurred when I first realized that networking was not something I ‘had’ to do, but rather, something that I was inadvertently already doing. Now, networking simply means being kind, being genuine, and delivering a product that I can whole-heartedly stand behind. Networking, after all, is about developing relationships.

In the words of JT the Bigga Figga, “Game recognize game.” What does that even mean? In the context of networking, I’ve come to view that phrase as meaning you will ALWAYS be recognized for your true self, and at the end of the day your intentions will be crystal clear. If you enter into relationships wondering “what can this person do for me,” it’s more than likely that the other person is fully aware. If they continue to give you the time of day, they’re probably wondering what kind of goodies they can squeeze out of you in return.

Now, I’m not here to judge your character, but if you’re on this website, reading this article, there’s a good chance that you’re a physical therapist, and it’s been my experience that physical therapists don’t operate in that quid pro quo way. Physical therapists don’t enter into situations thinking, what can I get out of this, or how can this person help me?

Physical therapists think first (after secretly analyzing that person’s gait or ability to perform a sit-to-stand transfer), “how can I help this person?” And that right there, makes for excellent networking.

Social media and networking

So, what is the best way to network? The way that makes you feel the most comfortable, and the happiest. I’ve never really been one for conferences or the like, but I have found social media to be an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to networking. I personally have found Instagram to be the best platform, as it’s connected me with clinicians and movement enthusiasts not just from across the country, but from around the world.

I started my Instagram account as a way to share my ideas regarding movement and the human experience. It was as simple as that. I didn’t set out to gain thousands of followers or become “Instagram famous.” I wanted to share my knowledge with anyone who was willing to listen. Instagram is basically networking 101, as the intentions of each user are incredibly clear from the get-go, and “scammy” accounts seeking to merely push a product immediately raise a red flag. Folks with quality posts and no hidden agendas stand out, and while they may not garner the most followers, or biggest network, each follower gained is one of high quality, which ultimately builds a stronger network. This means that the ideas exchanged, the growth afforded by the symbiotic relationship, and that support to be offered, should it be needed, are all ‘satisfaction guaranteed.’

Leave a lasting impression

The altruistic tendencies of most physical therapists makes success almost inevitable, when it comes to networking. If we view networking as creating relationships, then by the sheer nature of the work we do, the majority of our networks formed are based on trust and caregiving. It’s when you start to venture outside of the clinic and create these relationships without actually treating someone that folks may believe they have to sell themselves or put on a show. Quite the opposite. Very few, if any, people have an eidetic memory (the ability to precisely recall sights or sounds after only limited exposure; look it up if you don’t believe me), and so the overall impression you leave is far more important than the specific words you use. To quote the great Maya Angelou,

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

So whether you’re making new contacts in real time or via facetime, the basic premise remains the same: talk to people because you’re interested in who they are and what they have to say, not because you’re interested in what they can do for you or your career. Approach networking like a business transaction and it’s going to be business as usual. That’s not how we as physical therapists operate. Don’t worry about bringing your A-game, worry about bringing your genuine self.

Have Questions? Leave a comment below and we will get back to you ASAP!

About C. Shante Cofield

Dr. C. Shante Cofield is a former Division I athlete with a passion for movement surpassed only by her passion for learning. Shante graduated from Georgetown University and then continued her educational pursuits at New York University, graduating with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) and becoming a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). Shante is a board certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) who practices in NYC, with specialties ranging from CrossFit injuries to pelvic floor dysfunction. As a certified Functional Movement Screen (FMS) provider and Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) provider, Shante utilizes a movement-based treatment approach that incorporates manual therapy, corrective exercises, and techniques such as kinesiology taping and IASTM (instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization). Additionally, Shante is a Functional Range Conditioning mobility specialist (FRCms) and holds a CrossFit Level I trainer certificate. Outside of the clinic, Shante is a RockTape instructor, an advisory board member for WODMedic, and the creator of The Movement Maestro, a website and social-media based platform devoted to all things human movement and mobility related. Shante has also served as content expert for numerous publications and has lectured at universities and exercise facilities on topics including screening techniques, movement patterns, and injury prevention. A firm believer in the mantra of practicing what one preaches, Shante maintains an active lifestyle as a crossfitter and outdoor enthusiast. She has completed two marathons, is an experienced rock climber, and is a proud member of CrossFit718, serving as their in-house PT and movement specialist.

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