Many healthcare professionals wisely feel a bit leery of Facebook and Twitter. After all, it’s too easy to mix your professional and personal lives when/if you mention what a tough day it has been because a patient was difficult. There you have it. You just slipped a bit on the slippery slope that is patient privacy.

Yet LinkedIn is geared towards the professional (vs. the personal).  It allows you to connect online with other healthcare professionals via social media.  If you’re in private practice, for example, you may not attract new patients on LinkedIn, but you’ll be able to connect to(potentially) hundreds, if not thousands, of other professionals in your particular field.   The ability to network is mind-boggling, since you will possibly hear of new opportunities and stay abreast of the news and trends within your industry and specialty.

So here are a few best practices that you should keep in mind while using LinkedIn:

  • Make sure your profile is “complete”.  LinkedIn will tell you right away if it’s not. Fill out all of your profile’s fields, upload a current version of your resume/curriculum vitae (CV).
  • Do not let your “intro” field just be a regurgitation of your CV.  Tailor it specifically for the this introductory field.
  • Don’t wait until you’re actively looking for a job before setting up a profile.  Networking is an organic process that takes time…time you do not have when you are under pressure to find a job soon.  In addition, start participating in Linkedin Groups (more on this in a moment).
  • Don’t be shy.  Make sure your profile is “public.”  Your profile does you no good if no one can see it.
  • LinkedIn allows you to send an “invitation to connect” to people your email program has in its archives. This is an easy way to get lots of connections very quickly.
  • Give to get.  You can search for people you know and, if you know them or the quality of their work well, you can give them a recommendation. Many people will then automatically write a recommendation for you, but if they don’t, it’s quite alright to ask them to do so.  However, be aware that having your recommendation of someone else appear at about the same time that their recommendation of you does could make both recommendations look disingenuous.  Wait a week before writing or receiving a recommendation before asking for/returning the favor.
  • Become a member of one or more professional groups/message boards. Then follow the group and, when applicable, post a thoughtful reply to a question. Ask thoughtful questions, too. Don’t be too blatant with the “sales” aspect of this. If someone likes what she sees, believe us when we say that she’ll contact you if she has an opportunity she’d like to discuss with you.
  • Keep your LinkedIn updates about professional matters only. Many programs allow you to set up your social media sites so that one post on, for example, Twitter will automatically appear on your Facebook as well as your LinkedIn feed. This is terrific feature, unless your tweet (or Facebook post) discusses overly personal details of your weekend.  Such a post appearing on your LinkedIn feed will do nothing to raise the esteem in which your professional network may hold you.

Are you on LinkedIn? Are you actively engaged on it? How’s that working for you? If you have any tips yourself, let us know here!

Don’t forget to bookmark the Snelling Medical Blog and come back next week when we discuss Part 2 of “Social Media and your Healthcare Facility: Social Media Review Sites and What’s Being Said About Your Facility.” If you have any questions, contact us today!

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available.