LinkedIn for Healthcare Professionals: Getting Started

If you’re wondering whether LinkedIn is worth your time and attention, consider this: of the big 4 social platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, LinkedIn has been around the longest. While it doesn’t have the user base that Facebook does, LinkedIn has always been recognized as the place to be for healthcare professionals, and that means you.

LinkedIn for Healthcare: How it Started

For some time, LinkedIn mainly attracted healthcare employers and job seekers. While this remains partially true today, LinkedIn has expanded its reach to the point where it is now widely considered to be the go-to source for healthcare professional interaction. Whether you want to market your practice’s services or learn about the latest trends from an expert in your field, LinkedIn is the place to be.

LinkedIn for Reputation Management

With so much misinformation circulating around the internet and so many sites where you can’t control what is said, creating a profile on LinkedIn allows you to take control of how you are representing yourself and your practice. This is no small feat. Making certain that your voice is heard above the noise is an excellent way to protect your reputation.

Maximize Your LinkedIn Presence

So, how do you get the most out of your LinkedIn presence? Let’s start with the basics. The very first, and arguably most important step is to get your profile established. Think of your LinkedIn profile as your online Curriculum Vitae. When you create your profile, you are broadcasting your education, your experience and your successes. HubSpot, a Boston-based social media giant, offers this advice:

“While many people have an account, their profile is often incomplete, making it essentially useless. You might even say the only thing worse than not having a profile is having an incomplete one.”

Here are a few tips on how to create a complete, accurate and interesting profile:

  1. Be sure to use your full name and an image. A good, professional picture of yourself is especially important for health-care practitioners. LinkedIn statistics show that profiles without pictures are rarely viewed.
  2. Your headline is the area immediately below your name and adjacent to your picture. Many people simply use this for their current job title. But, best practices suggest that you use this area to tell people who you are. For example, if you are a physical therapist you might list your name like this: Jane Doe, PT, MS, SCS, ATC. Then your headline can include a brief introduction to your areas of specialty. The important take-away is to personalize your headline.
  3. The next thing you want to do is add your current position to the Experience section. Depending on your experience and career level, you can choose how much detail you want to share here. The key to completing this section is to include only as much information as is necessary for what you want to accomplish. This may be your entire CV or just your recent experience with highlights of key successes or accomplishments.
  4. Customize your LinkedIn URL. When you first set up your profile, LinkedIn will create a URL for you that may look something like this, http://www.linkedin.com/pub/xxabcd/00/9b/292. This URL is not very useful since it is meaningless, not easy to remember and therefore difficult to share. What you want to do is create what’s called a custom URL. This will help you brand yourself and make it much easier to share your profile. For instructions, visit: LinkedIn help center. Keep in mind, that you can only change your URL 5 times and must do so within the first 180 days of creating your profile.
  5. If you have a personal website, business website or blog, you should include this information in your profile. HubSpot recommends that you always choose your website type as “other.” This way you will be able to customize your site’s title which generates better search results.

[bctt tweet=”The only thing worse than not having a profile is having an incomplete one.–Hubspot”]

Establishing a Network

The goal of any social site is to connect with others. Your first step is to define the types of professionals you would like to add to your network. Are you looking for prospective new patients, specific researchers, or industry leaders? Once you have a list, your next step is to connect with peers that you already know. Scroll down to look at their connections, and connect with professionals who match your criteria. As you connect with new people, check which groups they belong to and join those groups. That will allow you to reach out to even more professionals in your industry. Before you know it, you will have a large network and professionals will be inviting YOU to connect with THEM.

Using LinkedIn to Stay Current

Once you get your LinkedIn profile completed, you are ready to start taking advantage of all that LinkedIn has to offer. In 2013 there were a reported 1 million U.S. doctors and nurses on LinkedIn. Part of the reason for this boon is the opportunity for medical professionals to use LinkedIn to learn from and collaborate with their peers. Because LinkedIn is a professionally focused platform you will find a tremendous amount of information related to your area of interest and concern.

For example, one of the most useful but often overlooked benefits of LinkedIn is the opportunity to access and curate content from a variety of domain experts. These experts will often share useful information that is not readily accessible from more traditional sources. Equally important is the accessibility of a variety of opinions on subjects that are of key interest to you. LinkedIn Groups offer members a forum where they can discuss and collaborate on a variety of topics.

These forums offer a place for the free exchange of information and opinions. Some of the most popular LinkedIn healthcare groups include the Medical Doctor (MD) Network, Innovations In Health, and Networking for Business Professionals and Doctors. There are groups for most any area of interest. Whether you are a physician, physical therapist, nurse, hospital executive or practice manager you will almost certainly find a group where you can see and be seen.

[bctt tweet=”In 2013 there were a reported 1 million U.S. doctors and nurses on LinkedIn.–LinkedIn “]

LinkedIn for Healthcare Professionals: Valuable Long-Term Strategies

This brings us to our final topic, how you can create a long-term LinkedIn strategy. Although this can take some time it is a very simple process, a process that can be described in one word – participate. It is a great idea to decide what you would like to get out of LinkedIn. Do you want to attract more patients? Do you want to connect with experts in your field to share new treatment protocols? Would you like to learn how your peers in other communities are responding to new medications? Whatever your goal, once you have identified it you can then create a participation plan that helps you reach that goal.

This doesn’t have to be a big complicated strategy. First search for groups (this is easily done with the LinkedIn search feature) that best fit your goals. Then, wait for conversation topics that you can contribute to. As you begin joining the discussions, you will find it natural and easy to add comments and ask additional questions. Before you know it you will have developed some new relationships and sources of information and advice. You may even start your own group.

There are a wide variety of resources to help you get the most out of LinkedIn, but in the end, the most important step is to get started. While you’re at it, don’t forget to say hi!  https://www.linkedin.com/in/chantaloicles/en

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