Professional Networking in Medical Billing and Coding
Professional networking, whether done in person or online, helps graduates of billing and coding programs enhance their career development by making connections within the field and expanding employment prospects. Through networking events like conferences and seminars, medical billing and coding graduates can find mentors, share knowledge and resources within the industry, and discover new job opportunities. Additionally, online professional networking sites like LinkedIn.com help medical billing and coding graduates forge virtual connections through existing professional relationships. In any kind of setting, professional networking requires good interpersonal skills, confidence in your expertise, and a willingness to take reasonable risks with regard to advancing your career.
While networking efforts typically focus on professional relationships, they can also foster connections whereby people who work in the same field discover commonalities in their personal lives. These more personalized contacts can lead to long-term, symbiotic relationships between professionals in medical billing and coding. Networking is an excellent opportunity for those without much experience in the field to get their foot in the door, particularly for medical billing and coding graduates who want to explore different work environments.
How Do You Network in Medical Billing and Coding?
Different Types of Professional Networks in Medical Billing and Coding
Professional networking encompasses many types of connections within the medical billing and coding industry, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. These include operational networks, which focus on the ins and outs of day-to-day relationships and generally work best for enhancing pre-existing professional connections. However, operational connections often don’t create long-term opportunities. Alternatively, personal networks serve to create and explore new connections in the interest of professional development and can function both internally and externally to an organization. Strategic networks, which focus on future priorities, work best for internal connections within one company, but can extend to external contacts in certain cases.
Networking Events in Medical Billing and Coding
Networking events can play a crucial role in the medical billing and coding field with respect to sharing industry knowledge, passing along helpful resources, and making new professional contacts. Typically hosted by local businesses or professional organizations at convention centers or other large venues, these networking events often provide a variety of offerings for attendees, such as lectures and seminars, job fairs, question-and-answer sessions with experts, and social events. Attendees can take advantage of this varied format to network many different ways, such as handing out business cards or discussing takeaways from a lecture session with other medical billing and coding professionals at a subsequent dinner. While these networking events generally require attendees to pay a registration fee, companies often cover this expense in the interest of professional development for their employees.
Elevator Pitches in Medical Billing and Coding
Typically best suited for a brief conversation with a potential networking contact, an elevator pitch is a short speech wherein you promote yourself and your professional value. Your pitch, which should generally last about 30 seconds, should include a short introduction of you who are; a description of your medical billing and coding skills, experience, and expertise; and a request for a response of some kind.
Social Networking Sites for Medical Billing and Coding Professionals
Social networking sites like LinkedIn.com are excellent ways to connect with other professionals in the medical billing and coding industry. Other helpful sites include Beyond.com and Upspring.com. Offering services like referrals, connections with recruiters, and professional directories, these sites are useful for medical billing and coding professionals who are just getting started and those who already established themselves in the field. These sites provide advantages over in-person networking, including the ability to reach out to many people in less time and the fact that everything's in writing and easily referenceable at a later date. However, you typically have to pay some sort of fee to be a member of these networking sites, and you might find yourself missing the more personal elements of face-to-face interactions.
Tips for Networking in Medical Billing and Coding
As with any professional skill, networking gets easier and more beneficial with experience. Early in your career, you might make a networking blunder that you'll learn to never repeat after suffering the potentially embarrassing consequences, but that can happen to anyone. What’s most important is that you learn from your mistakes.
- Take Notes: Even if you make a good connection through professional networking, you can't capitalize on that connection if you don't log it for your records. A good approach is to take a minute or two after the conversation to record contact information for the person, how they can potentially help you, and any other key points you'd like to remember about the interaction.
- Ask Questions: While it's tempting to share about your personal life or professional goals, you should always make sure the other party in a networking conversation feels respected and heard. Asking thoughtful questions about their career path or the particulars of their current job can fulfill this task.
- Pass On Unhelpful Connections to Others: Through professional networking, you might meet someone whom you don't feel can help advance your career or provide relevant resources for you. However, that same person could be a useful connection for your colleagues, so pass on their contact information to others; they may return the favor in the future.
- Practice Self-Awareness About Your Body Language: From the way you shift your feet to how many times you blink or swallow, your body language speaks volumes about your self-confidence and ability to handle yourself in a professional situation. Convey self-assuredness by remembering to smile, standing or sitting up straight, and shaking hands with anyone you meet.
- Do Research Beforehand: Before any professional networking event, conduct some research on the work and career paths of speakers and other attendees with whom you'd like to make a connection. This will help you ask pertinent questions and evidence your familiarity with their work, facilitating longer-lasting and more useful professional relationships.
Networking Event "Do's" for Medical Billing and Coding Professionals
- Set Goals: Attending a networking event involves more than showing up. Beforehand, ask yourself why you're participating and in what ways you'd like to benefit from your efforts. This will help you stay focused and get the most out of networking events.
- Dress Appropriately: Though they typically don't deal with patients directly, medical billing and coding professionals must dress professionally in their day-to-day jobs, and this extends to networking events. Make a good first impression by choosing clothes that are clean and ambiance-appropriate while maintaining your comfort.
- Bring Business Cards: Business cards are a great way for medical billing and coding professionals to share their contact information with networking contacts. Include both your telephone number and professional email address on your business cards to stay open to different types of communications.
- Be Concise: Because medical billing and coding shoptalk can involve lots of technical jargon and specialized terminology, things can easily get muddled during a networking conversation. Take advantage of your limited time with a new connection by efficiently communicating important information about yourself and your career aspirations without getting caught up in unproductive tangents.
- Follow Up on Connections: Forging a connection won't help you if you never do anything with it, so it's crucial that you call or send a follow-up communication to anyone with whom you're interested in developing a professional relationship. Include a small reminder of your conversation to reinforce any important points you'd like them to remember and arrange a follow-up meeting of some kind.
Networking Event "Don'ts" for Medical Billing and Coding Professionals
- Pass Out Paper Copies of Your Resume: In this digital age, medical billing and coding professionals who attend networking events generally don't want to walk around carrying a stack of resumes they've received from inexperienced hopefuls. Additionally, a paper resume doesn't speak to your interpersonal skills nearly as well as an in-person conversation.
- Use a Shotgun Approach: Some medical billing and coding graduates who are new to professional networking try to increase their odds of finding employment by meeting as many people as possible at the same networking event. This approach generally leads to more superficial connections, where you won't remember anything about the person who gave you a business card and/or received yours.
- Interrupt/Talk Over Others: As is the case with any interaction, interrupting and talking over other medical billing and coding professionals demonstrates that you don’t care what others have to contribute to the conversation. This shows a lack of respect and does not make a good impression.
- Be Intimidated: Remember that everyone was new to networking in medical billing and coding at one time. With that said, don't let another person's impressive credentials or years of experience intimidate you or keep you from speaking up when you have something important to contribute to the conversation.
- Neglect to Follow Up on Connections: If you fail to follow up on a recently forged connection with another medical billing and coding professional, you indicate that you don't value their potential contribution to your career development. Essentially, you've wasted that person's time, which does nothing to help your professional reputation.