Chiropractic school is tough.
You’re forced to balance studying, extracurricular activities, diet, exercise, and now some school sponsored motivational guru just told you that to be successful you have to start networking too.
Everyone tells you that networking is how you get a job but studying comes first, right? Here’s how you can do both.
Two birds, one stone
Think of the last time you were studying for a test and you came across something cool. Really cool. I’m talking big toe dysfunction causing shoulder pain kind of cool.
What? How that heck is that possible? So now you start researching. You’ve got 20 tabs open on Google Scholar and you’re firing on all cylinders down the rabbit hole. You finally find the answer you’re looking for and you’re about to go back to studying”¦ wait. This is a perfect networking opportunity. Write the author a thank you letter.
Write like you mean it
How many researchers out there do you think feel underappreciated? From the amount of responses students have gotten using this technique, probably quite a few. There are a few caveats to this trick so let’s go over how to write a thank you letter.
First, you have to really mean it. Don’t write a thank you letter to an embryologist if you’re not a primitive streak aficionado. Show the researcher you’re as passionate about the topic as they are.
Second, show them what you learned. Be specific and if possible show them how what you learned will benefit your future patients.
Third, say thank you. The most important part of saying thank you is not expecting anything in return. This is the hardest part but it’s really the most effective. Ending a thank you letter without asking for anything in return is powerful, uncommon, and will always make you stand out.
After you’ve hit send, go back to studying and don’t check your inbox until tomorrow. Researchers and doctors will almost always return your emails saying something along the lines of, “I’m glad you learned something and if there is anything I can do for you, don’t hesitate to ask.” Bingo.
Now is your chance for follow up questions. If you don’t have any follow up questions, keep the lines of communication open by asking if this researcher would consider being one of your mentors. This is a good way to build a cabinet of trusted advisers to help you bounce ideas around for your future practice and career plans. Or as others would call it, networking.
One way to continue the conversation and strengthen your professional relationship is to write about this researcher’s work in your school paper or personal blog. If you had follow up questions about the research, other people probably do too.
Start by writing a summary of the interesting article you found. Putting the article in your own words will more easily help you communicate the findings later in conversations. Next write about how you applied this research, just like you wrote in your thank you letter. If you thought of more applications since then be sure to include those too.
Lastly, write about your conversation with the researcher. Use direct quotes with permission and don’t be afraid to include other related articles to reinforce your views. It’s okay to make a few mistakes here or there so don’t feel pressured to make it perfect before you publish your work. Ask for feedback from your teachers and always take criticism graciously.
Each time you write a new article, send it to all of your mentors and see what they think too. Who knows? If you’re lucky, you might even get a thank you letter.
Randy Thompson, DC, is a 2016 graduate of New York Chiropractic College. Thompson enjoys the challenge of effectively communicating research for practical use and turning satisfied patients into passionate advocates. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/RandyThompsonDC.