Nielsen: Establishing productive relationships with healthcare leaders

Over the past decade, increasing numbers of seasoned healthcare leaders have told me that they have reservations about attending many of the larger regional and national healthcare education and networking meetings. They say that it seems like any of these meetings have evolved into giant ‘meat markets’ for people looking for a job or seeking something from them … even if they’re complete strangers.

This form of “networking” is increasingly resented by seasoned healthcare leaders who are being used — some would say almost abused — while participating in such meetings.

Here are some suggestions for establishing and maintaining productive relationships with seasoned healthcare leaders. Virtually all credible healthcare leaders will provide career support, guidance and assistance if appropriately approached and engaged.

  1. Do research regarding selected executives and their organizations. Be informed. Within 30 seconds, a seasoned healthcare executive will know if you have done your research.
  2. Request an interview (phone or in person) for a project you are working on or an article or paper you will write. DO NOT turn the interview into a job interview. Don’t even mention a job unless you are asked. First establish the relationship. Help or assistance will come later. Give and produce before you ask for anything.
  3. Seek an interview regarding a successful program, product or service the executive has established or been involved in. Very few executives will turn you down if you have done your research and are sincere.
  4. Write an article or paper regarding your interview. Send it to the executive, asking for suggestions and approval to publish the article or paper. Publishing the article or paper is not as difficult as you might think.
  5. Very few leaders, in any industry or profession, turn away people who truly want to learn from them.  A sincere request to learn from someone, along with appropriate follow-up, is one of the greatest complements possible. And, everyone benefits.
  6. Continue to proactively learn from the healthcare leaders you select. Your relationship with each leader will grow and flourish. And, everyone benefits and wins. 


Copyright © 2010 by Dan Nielsen,

Founder, National Institute for Healthcare Leadership

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