Dentistry is a relational profession. The next 40 years of your career will be spent building relationships with your patients, team and fellow dentists. There is no time like the present to start flexing those interpersonal skills to make lifelong connections and build a quality network.
The benefits of connecting with professionals and students who can guide you through the predental experience are vast. Whether it is your next shadowing opportunity, a deeper understanding of the dental field or insight into the interview process for dental school, you can learn, grow and become a more well-rounded dental school applicant through effective networking.
Here are some quick tips that I, along with other predental students, have found useful in kick-starting our professional network:
1. Connect with those who can guide you in reaching your future goals.
Evaluate your current situation and your end goal in relation to the dental profession. Determine those potential mentors along the way and connect with them. Whether it is a mentor at a dental school you hope to attend or a practicing dentist in the specialty of your choice, reach out to them.
2. Attend professional conferences, meetings and events.
Professional events are the perfect opportunity to connect with potential mentors. Whether it is attending a state dental meeting, participating in dental-based philanthropy or even going to ASDA’s National Leadership Conference, put yourself in the position to meet new mentors. Attending these events are the perfect way to express your interest and show your dedication to the profession on a different level.
3. Don’t be afraid to express interest.
Many dental professionals know the struggles of being a predental student and are grateful for those who helped them establish their career. The gratitude they feel, in addition to the pride associated with being a dentist, push these professionals to pay it forward in the form of advice and mentorship. Write a formal letter or make a cold call to introduce yourself to dental professionals in all types of settings. Verbalize your professional goals. See if they would be willing to grab lunch or coffee with you.
4. Leave a lasting impression and cultivate a long-term relationship.
Start and end every professional meeting with a firm handshake and eye contact. If appropriate, ask for the person’s contact information to keep in touch for future questions or advice. If someone takes the time to speak with you about your goals, make sure you express your gratitude. Handwritten notes of appreciation will never go out of style, and there is no better way to express your thanks. The time, effort and personalization associated with these types of thank-you notes are not lost on the recipient.
~ Carson Smith, chair, Predental Advisory Committee
2017 Predental Month is sponsored by:
About Carson Smith
Carson Smith is a senior at the University of Florida, pursuing a dual degree in nutritional sciences and microbiology. He currently serves as the predental consultant to ASDA. His hobbies include all things predental, running and completing secondaries.