Develop Powerful, Purposeful Networks

Establish professional connections necessary to advance your career.

 Darlene F. Helmer, MBA, CMPE, CPC, CMA, ACS-AN
In our industry, the importance of networking with other professionals can’t be expressed enough. Establishing a network you can tap into for coding advice and career opportunities requires making contacts, building relationships, and developing friendships. At one time, this might have been a job in itself, but in this age of social media, reaching out to others has never been easier. Thanks to the Internet, “society is on the verge of an unprecedented era of learning.” (MIT Technology Review, “The Power of Networks”) You now have the power to create a network that has no boundaries, and provides you with endless opportunities for learning and professional advancement.

Who You Know vs. What You Know

Author of “The Power of Networking” (, Sheila Savar asks, “Why is it that a recent college graduate lands his dream job while the other takes months to find any job? Why do some people move quickly up the corporate ladder while their equally qualified peers can’t even seem to move to the next level …?” The answer is simple: professional networking. Your ability to make connections with others – real or virtual – is your most valuable skill.
In fact, MIT Technology Review says, “… the art and science of developing powerful, purposeful networks that connect the right people, machines, and organizations is becoming a major competitive differentiator in today’s business landscape. Those who master these capabilities will offer the world something of value.”

Don’t Be Intimidated

When public speaker and author Catherine Statton began her career, she found professional networking “distasteful.” Her naiveté led her to believe that it was insincere to create relationships for the sole purpose of advancing her career. “That was until I understood the true value of a network; a coalition of the willing that supports and challenges me,” Statton writes in her blog. “My network values my strengths, encourages me, allows me to broaden my expertise, and find purpose and balance.”

Tap into AAPC Networking

AAPC forums are a great place for networking, but if you like to put a face to a name, consider attending local chapter meetings and other gatherings with like-minded, skilled individuals who can help you reach your potential. Jobs for coders are plentiful and your network could hold the key to opportunity.
Joette Derricks, CPC, CHC, CMPE, CSSGB, CLHC, vice president of regulatory affairs and research with Anesthesia Business Consultants has worked in coding, auditing, and compliance for many years. “Every job I held since college was obtained through networking. When I had my own firm, networking resulted in many clients …” Derricks said.
Beyond personal gain, networking allows collaboration. With ICD-10 on our doorstep, two or more heads will be better than one when working through coding issues and questions the transition will surely bring.

Make Networking Second Nature

The benefits of networking became evident after my initial involvement in local chapters as reimbursement committee chairman of a national organization. I had little experience, but I knew connecting with the right people could enhance my knowledge.
Reimbursement meetings became a second home. I began acquainting myself with members and attendees, and I shared with them my desire to go back to school. The members went through the process with me and applauded my accomplishments. This drew us closer together and created an unbreakable bond. This volunteer position was the beginning of an invaluable personal and professional network, which continues to flourish.
Volunteer at your local chapter to start building lifelong relationships and broaden your opportunities for advancement. Get your name out there and connect with other healthcare professionals. Each day, introduce yourself to one person and start collecting business cards. What a prized possession my collection of business cards has become!

Master the Art of Networking

Networking is a two-way street. Within your network, share your ideas, experiences, and knowledge. If you don’t expect anything in return, you’ll learn more than you realize and experience the true power of networking.
Darlene F. Helmer, MBA, CMPE, CPC, CMA, ACS-AN,is vice president of provider education and training for Anesthesia Business Consultants (ABC). She has 30+ years of healthcare financial management and business experience. Helmer works closely with the ABC compliance department and is a member of the company’s ICD-10 training team. She is a longstanding member of AAPC and other associations, a frequent speaker at local and state conferences, and a member of the Baltimore East, Md., local chapter.

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Renee Dustman, BS, AAPC MACRA Proficient, is managing editor - content & editorial at AAPC. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Media Communications - Journalism. Renee has more than 30 years' experience in journalistic reporting, print production, graphic design, and content management. Follow her on Twitter @dustman_aapc.

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