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The “New Girls” Network—Meet a Master of Medical Networking, Eliza Chin, MD

The “old boys” network is blamed for keeping us down and keeping us out. Instead of complaining, we must start building a “new girls” network. Women physicians know not of the importance of creating powerful, enduring relationships in the workplace. Women connecting to women (and men of good conscience) must create networks to communicate and build our visions for the future of medicine.

Networking is not easy. It takes time, energy, a good memory for names and places, and a knack at rapidly building a rapport through shared ideas and ideals. With little time, and, if you are like me, trouble remembering whom you meet, card swapping isn’t the first thing you think to do when you meet someone new along the way.

My younger colleague, immediate past president of the American Medical Women’s Association, and ETI member, Eliza Chin, MD, is a master of networking. She does it large scale, and even makes it look easy. In Hear Her Story she describes her career as a series of detours. But during each detour, whether compiling the stories of 100 women physicians or lecturing at the 55th UN Conference on the Status of Women, she gathered many new friends and made numerous new connections. Eliza is a great example of how one person can link many others and exponentially increase her reach, her organization’s reach, and thereby strengthen the fabric of everyone’s lives.

For 18 years I coordinated the otolaryngology resident research program at the University at Buffalo.  Every year we had a visitng professor at year’s end. I am embarrassed to admit that not once did I think to invite a woman as the visiting professor to judge and to lecture. Why didn’t I draw upon my network of women colleagues? And in turn, why didn’t they call on me? Every national or international lecture I gave, save two, were invitations made by male colleagues. (Thank you Dr. Tania Sih and Dr. Sofia Stamataki, from Brazil and Greece respectively.)

Simply put, I wasn’t thinking about networking as a form of career building.

Eliza Chin, younger and smarter than I was, has taught me an important lesson. Women must play an active role in helping each other succeed. And to do this, networking is critical. Reaching beyond the networks of women doctors, Eliza realized that our reach could be extended, our resources pooled, and our learning curve accelerated. She created the Networking Alliance for Women in Medicine—14 organizations that collaborate for mutual benefit. Not all of these organizations are for or about women physicians, but all share the agenda of optimizing the work that women do.

Your network equals your power. Powerful people are defined by their abilities to make things happen and they do this by having other people help them. “Who” you know is as important as “what” you know.

While we can network as do men, women connect differently than men do. Men connect first with titles and statistics.  Women connect first with stories. How did you get there and why did you go?  Building rapport then leads to transfer of information. Start with a simple “business” card that tells others who you are and how to reach you. Leave the back blank so you can scribble valuable information that is helpful to those you meet to fulfill their needs. Give these cards out to those you meet when asked. And learn to keep in touch and follow through.  Over time your return on investment will be enormous.

So now, when I think of who to ask, who to recommend, who to promote, I am much better prepared because I have begun to learn how to network and have developed networks of women in many spheres of my life. Unfortunately, it was a lesson learned late in my career. Don’t let that be the case in yours. Thank you, Dr. Eliza Chin for being my guide.


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