A real benefit in today’s dynamic work environment is that networking can extend your reach and introduce you to potential new employment opportunities as well.”
June/July 2014, Vol 2, No 3 - The First Word
Donald J. Dietz, RPh, MS

Community pharmacists often measure how many prescriptions are dispensed in a given day or week. We also look at pharmacy sales, profits, labor costs per prescription, dispensing errors, and customer service metrics, among a variety of other measurements, to determine how we are progressing or how we compare with a similar group of pharmacies.

I propose that we add another subjective attribute to our list: networking. Networking is defined as the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions, specifically the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.

Although networking most likely will not be on an upcoming performance evaluation in your pharmacy, improving in this area could certainly provide benefit to the above metrics, where we are measured.

Networking Is Ongoing
There are many benefits to networking, including expanding our network of contacts; deepening our relationships with friends and customers; exposing ourselves to new views, and perhaps, new business opportunities; developing new ways of looking at old problems; and even establishing new employment opportunities.

Networking should be ongoing and continuous. Pharmacists can start with existing customers to learn more about their needs as part of their community, and then expand to network with potential new customers. There are several articles in this issue of Inside Pharmacy that build upon the networking concept as it relates to our role as community pharmacists. Garcia and Calixte describe 8 key components of wellness that we can discuss with our patients to cultivate and support our role as community pharmacists. In another article, Patricia Lininger, MSEd, details the role of community pharmacists in wellness and weight management.

This can include expanding service offerings at your pharmacy to help differentiate yourself from competition. If your store has a dietitian, this can further enhance your service offerings and provide an additional level of care; it can also open additional doors for networking with other healthcare professionals outside of the usual pharmacist–physician or pharmacist–nurse communication. This level of networking can help you provide a more holistic approach to your patients’ care.

Expanding Your Reach
Inside Pharmacy recently expanded its reach to include retail clinics inside stores with pharmacies. Pharmacists in this environment should engage and work closely with the physician assistants and nurse practitioners to provide comprehensive services to meet patients’ needs, perhaps through new or coordinated service offerings. This also creates another opportunity to exchange information with professionals in our work location to cultivate relationships and expand business opportunities.

In this issue, Dennis D. Stanley, BPharm, provides an excellent overview of travel immunizations. Networking within your community could help uncover if this is an unmet business need that your pharmacy could provide for those traveling for business or leisure. Dennis provides a framework for immunizations, as well as other travel-related services, where the community pharmacist provides an invaluable service that can make travel abroad a safer and enjoyable experience. Networking with business leaders, neighbors, and physicians, as well as your existing patients, could help you assess opportunities to expand immunization services in your pharmacy.

Networking extends to our fellow pharmacists by connecting and expanding relationships within pharmacy groups. In this issue, Melissa S. Krause, PharmD, outlines the benefits of becoming an active member in your local, state, or national pharmacy association. Benefits of belonging to an active, motivated group of your peers extend beyond continuous education sessions and presentations at meetings. The networking benefits can help uncover new service offerings and ways for you to become a better pharmacist. While many community retail pharmacists work with the same small group of individuals on a daily basis, joining a local or state pharmacy organization can allow you to expand your circle of pharmacy acquaintances and provides an excellent environment for mingling. A real benefit in today’s dynamic work environment is that networking can extend your reach and introduce you to potential new employment opportunities as well.

Getting Past the Hurdles of Networking
Initially, networking may be difficult because it requires you to reach beyond your comfort zone. This can be especially daunting for new pharmacists. However, I find that most people are welcoming and willing to discuss their interests and needs, and conversely, are willing to learn more about you and your interests. With patients, this can involve a deeper understanding of life situations that can be affecting their wellness.

Networking as a pharmacist should be ongoing and include patients, coworkers, and professionals both inside and outside the pharmacy profession. This issue contains 4 articles about specific areas where pharmacists could expand their networking opportunities. I hope you find these articles beneficial and of interest to you. Please feel free to reach out to me and our authors to begin and/or extend your networking opportunities.

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Last modified: May 21, 2015
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