Published in Non-Clinical

Networking Tips for the New Optometrist

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4 min read

Networking is key for new optometrists, keep reading to discover five tips for building connections with other ODs to foster your career growth.

Networking Tips for the New Optometrist
Networking is a vital part of our profession. I first realized networking was important as a student. Now, as a new optometrist settling into practice, networking has changed—for the better!
If anything, it’s even more accessible and personal. You just have to know where to look and how to care for the relationships so they last well into your career.

1. Identify networking opportunities.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money traveling to every conference or hotel to start networking. Chances are, if you start looking, you’ll find networking opportunities everywhere. These potentials may present themselves at conferences, but they may also be at your college of optometry, group continuing education (CE) dinners, local or state society meetings, or even online.
If a pharmaceutical company is putting on a dinner for a dry eye-related product, I try to do a little research ahead of time on who will be attending and how their professional and personal experiences may differ from my own. Being proactive and seeking out opportunities will jumpstart the process easily.

2. Be genuine and authentic.

I thought that forming new relationships would become more difficult once I graduated, but rather I have found them to be easier and more personal. Instead of connecting with other students from different colleges of optometry, now I’m connecting with the local ODs in my area. I’m particularly passionate about connecting with other new optometrists.
The North Carolina Optometrist Society (NCOS) Young OD Committee has the same mission, and serving as their Co-Chair with Dr. Drew Barrows has allowed me to be the most authentic version of myself. All of us involved are finding ways to support one another’s individual practice—a genuine mission we all share.

3. Be clear in your goals.

Clarity in your personal goals will help create more meaningful connections. Are you interested in starting a specialty? Pursuing residency? Opening up a cold-start practice?
As Bethenny Frankel once said (of course, under different context), “Mention it ALL!” Vocalizing your intentions clearly will lead you to like-minded individuals, allowing you to form more meaningful connections.

4. Be patient.

Relationships don’t happen overnight. They take time and nurturing to develop organically, and networking relationships are no different. Networking is a lifelong process and requires repeat presence.
If you’ve been at a few events that haven’t paid off, don’t give up! If you didn’t walk away from an event with a worthwhile connection, reflect on why. Perhaps you’re introverted, and you thrive on one-on-one conversations over coffee. Maybe you attended an event after a busy clinic day, drained and unable to be fully present. I’ve personally shown up late to events and, due to limited seating, missed sitting at a table with more interesting potential connections.

All can be ironed out with a little self-reflection, patience, and perhaps a better eye on the clock.

5. Return the favor.

Becoming a mentor is a vital part of spreading your network further and ensuring its longevity. As part of the digital generation, it’s not uncommon to have met many of my mentees and mentors on social media before connecting in person.
When we do have the chance to meet face-to-face, the connections deepen further. I try to check in periodically and see if there’s anything I can do to help out, and when new opportunities arise, keep my mentees in mind.


Networking goes way beyond the business card. It’s about building relationships and connections to foster support and growth.
By following these tips, you’ll ensure a strong network that will benefit you and others for many years to come.
Emilie Seitz, OD, FAAO
About Emilie Seitz, OD, FAAO

Dr. Emilie Seitz is a North Coast native from Cleveland, Ohio. She studied Biology at The Ohio State University. Following her undergraduate studies, Dr. Seitz obtained her doctorate degree in 2020 from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University in Philadelphia, PA.

She completed her optometry rotations in 4 different states: Ohio (Cleveland Eye Clinic), Pennsylvania (Nittany Eye Associates), Kentucky (Danville Eye Center), and North Carolina (South Charlotte Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center). After graduation, Dr. Seitz completed her residency in ocular disease at the WG (Bill) Hefner VAMC in Salisbury, NC, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emilie Seitz, OD, FAAO
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