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#28 Networking 101

April 25, 2023 | By


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How to work a Meeting, a Mixer, or the Moment

With Dr Utibe Essien

Enjoy an excellent conversation on Networking 101 with our guest Dr. Utibe Essien during the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine Conference AIMW23 in Austin, TX April 2023.  We cover ways to become a networking pro and the skills needed to both grow and maintain your professional community.  Dr. Essien shares reflections on his AIMW23 plenary talk on Race in medicine, the benefits networking has had on his career, and what it could do for yours! Recorded at Academic Internal Medicine Week 2023.

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About Our Guest Dr. Utibe Essien, MD, MPH

He is a national award-winning, board-certified internal medicine physician, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCLA, and a health disparities researcher at the VA Center for the Study of Healthcare Innovation, Implementation, and Policy. He graduated from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in NYC and has an MPH degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. He completed residency and a research fellowship in Internal Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Essien’s research focuses on racial and ethnic disparities in the use of novel medications and technologies, especially for treating heart diseases. He is passionate about diversifying the medical and research scientist workforce and is an Associate Vice Chair of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Department of Medicine at UCLA.
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Show Segments

  • Dr. Essien Intro, disclaimer, Bio
  • One-liner/ Favorite part of AIMW23/ Book Recs
  • Case from Kashlak Memorial Hospital 
  • Preparing for networking success 
  • Benefits to team and community building 
  • Following up with your network
  • Recipe for effective networking
  • Dr. Essien’s AIMW talk on Anti-Racism in Medical Education
  • Takeaways from AIMW and conducting his research
  • How to approach large meetings and conferences
  • Final tips for networking
  • Outro

Networking 101 Pearls

  1. Building relationships and community through networking is an essential tool for career development as a clinician educator- you never know what opportunities will arise from these connections!
  2. Preparation is Key!!! Be intentional about with whom you want to connect, how you can approach them, and your goals for attending each event.
  3. Be authentic to who you are and what you bring to each interaction, we can all learn from each other. 
  4. Following up is extremely important to maintaining the network you have built and the relationships that you have started.
  5. Embrace the nerves of the situation and have confidence in yourself as you engage with others in networking environments. 

Networking 101 Notes

Preparing for Networking Success

First, we need to recognize what networking is and what it isn’t.  Dr. Essien points out that networking isn’t “exchanging emails, LinkedIn, phone numbers and Twitter handles. It’s about purpose, and it’s important to be genuine and intentional with your purpose/interests while networking.”

Key points for successful Networking:

  • Do your homework! Know who you want to meet and the benefits of connecting with them.
  • Build time into your schedule for attending events and engaging in conversations.
  • Remember to be genuine with your interests and purpose for networking.
  • Have an ‘Elevator pitch” ready for a quick introduction.

Use a Great Elevator Pitch

Elevator pitches or one-liners can be difficult to make and deciding when to use them can be challenging.  The focus of your elevator pitch should be oriented on introducing yourself, your role in medicine, the institution you represent, and several of your interests. 

In a simpler approach, you can utilize the NOW Approach which is a quick and easy way to effectively communicate information about you, while directing the conversation following introductions.

Name (Don’t forget to add pronouns, preferred name, or how they can refer to you.)

Organization you represent (Educational program, research lab, provider group, etc.)

What you want to discuss (intention of the conversation, topics you’d like to discuss, or questions you have for the person you are talking to.)

Lose the nerves and…. Practice!

The skills needed to successfully network can be challenging to master. Practicing is a great way to shake the nerves and perfect your one-liner before a big event.  Utilize practice conversations through role-playing prior to meeting with peers, faculty, or other medical professionals.  It’s important to recognize that not everyone is an extrovert at networking events and learning to interact with other personalities takes practice. 

Learning to communicate efficiently and effectively is important to networking, however learning to listen can be an extremely powerful tool.  Dr. Essien references the importance of “getting others to talk about themselves” by inviting others to share their experiences and interests to facilitate the conversation and develop a strong professional connection.

Why You Should Build Your Community 

Networking in medicine takes effort and can be difficult. However, building a network can provide numerous benefits to anyone’s career, research, and education.  Networking can provide opportunities to meet both peers and other professionals with similar interests and passions within medicine.  The focus should be centered on building communities, growing relationships, teams, and resources to make improvements in medicine and the system which we all make up. 

How to “Work” Large Meetings and Conferences

Attending large meetings and conferences can be exciting and challenging from a networking perspective, especially for students and new professionals. It’s important to consider your goals early and consider if your focus for networking at a meeting/conference is more content or creator-driven. 

  • Find small group opportunities! These allow for more 1-on-1 conversations and relationship-building during these large conferences among thousands of attendees. 
  • Do your research. Develop a schedule of individuals you’d like to meet, talks to attend, and interest group meetings to engage with. 
  • Reach out early. Scheduling meet-ups, coffee or dinner ahead of meetings with other attendees is a great way to grow networking relationships while effectively managing your time at these events. 

Maintain Your Network so it Grows!

Dr. Essien points out that following up with your network is critical for maintaining and building the relationships you have made. “It’s all about the follow-up! Nobody will remember the business card you gave them or the email you sent during the conference”, so you have to follow up in whatever form that feels most appropriate i.e email, Twitter DM, etc. Networking takes time and it is important to manage your time to follow up after meetings and conferences in an effort to solidify the connections you have built.

Important points to remember when growing your connections and maintaining them over time after attending meetings, conferences, symposiums, etc: 

  • Following up is critical and time-consuming! Follow up after establishing new connections and relationships through email, DMs, etc. 
  • Be intentional with your follow-up and communicate if the purpose is to meet again, collaborate, or seek out additional connections through another’s community.
  • Casual check-ins are okay! This can be in the form of sharing projects you’re engaged with, conferences you’re attending, etc. 

Dr. Essien’s AIMW23 Experience and Takeaways

Opening Plenary: History Has Its Eyes on You: Race and Justice in Academic Medicine

His AIMW 2023 talk on racism in medical education grew out of networking opportunities while he was still in medical school, which influenced where he completed residency and future professional development.  Since then through additional networking, he developed his talk into its current form!

5 Ds Anti-Racism Approach for Medical Educators 

When approaching medical education with an anti-racist focus providers should begin with a broad perspective of the system of which they are a part and its historical structure.  We should question how these systems came to be and how they impact people of color and other communities.  Viewing these systems through a variety of lenses with the intention of an anti-racist approach is critical for the progression of equitable medical education.  

  1. Desegregate The Healthcare System
  1. Divest From Racist Practice And Policy
  1. Diversify The Medical Workforce
  1. Develop Antiracist Medical Training
  1. Deepen Investments In The Community

Takeaways from doing Research and Speaking on Racism in Medicine

Dr. Essien highlights the tremendous benefit of learning how to give talks and present information, learning to build upon these skills he first established from his intern year of residency.  Developing skills in how to communicate information in the form of short talks and case presentations set him up for success in the future as an educator.  When presenting on difficult topics in medicine he points out the importance of leaving the audience with a hopeful approach that they can take with them.

Other Stuff

Expert Opinion 

  • “Put yourself out there! Nobody can network for you so be confident, meet people, and develop relationships that can benefit you in the future.
  • “Treat conferences and meetings as more than a CME check box” Plan out your networking, who you can meet, and which parts of a conference you’d like to be part of. 


  1. Wahala Book  
  2. How to Win Friends and Influence People book
  3. The Curbsiders episode #222 on Addressing Anti-Black Racism in Medicine
  4. Anti-Racism In Medicine Podcast
  5. Dr. Essien Forbes Article 


Listeners will understand how to prepare for Networking events and develop skills to grow and maintain relationships, communities, and teams they build. 

Learning objectives

After listening to this episode listeners will…  

  1. Recognize the role of networking and how the benefits it can bring to a career in medicine.
  2. Learn that networking should be goal oriented and thoughtfully planned to develop relationships and connections that will benefit everyone involved.
  3. Develop skills to approach others with confidence while networking and how to effectively communicate while relationship building.
  4. Be familiar with the components of a strong elevator pitch and how to utilize the N.O.W. approach in a networking event. 
  5. Recognize that preparation is key to any networking event, especially while attending large meetings and conferences.
  6. Understand the importance of following up and learning ways to maintain connections, while preparing for successful networking experiences in the future. 


Dr. Utibe Essien reports no relevant financial disclosures. The Curbsiders report no relevant financial disclosures. 


Essien U, Heublein M, Kryzhanovskaya E. “ #28 Networking 101, How to work a Meeting, a Mixer, or the Moment”  The Curbsiders Teach Podcast. https://thecurbsiders.com/teach. April 25, 2023.

Episode Credits

Writer: Era Kryzhanovskaya MD Infographics/show notes: Andrew DeLaat DO Cover Art: Paige Spata Hosts/Producer: Era Kryzhanovskaya MD ; Molly Heublein MD Editor (audio materials): Podpaste Guest: Utibe Essien MD

CME Partner


The Curbsiders are partnering with VCU Health Continuing Education to offer FREE continuing education credits for physicians and other healthcare professionals. Visit curbsiders.vcuhealth.org and search for this episode to claim credit.

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