Last week I wrote about why doctors don’t use LinkedIn. While the post intended to break down why doctors weren’t inclined to use LinkedIn, I never meant to suggest that it can’t be helpful for practicing physicians. Enough people messaged me and commented (here and on Better Health) that I feel I should address the issues of doctors and LinkedIn with a broader perspective.
So how could LinkedIn be important for the average physician?
Dig your well before you’re thirsty. I remember reading Harvey Mackey’s book back in the day which suggested that you should always have options lined up in the event that things don’t work out. Times are definitely changing. Different practice environments and models of care may favor those with an unusual element to their background. The evolution of the health care environment may force you to change what you do. Think about your skill sets and what you’ve accomplished – how does that define you? LinkedIn is a good place to showcase that part of you.
LinkedIn is one element of your digital footprint that you control. Too many physicians are not concerned with their professional digital footprint. That is, the record of stuff that appears when you conduct a
vanity search on Google or Bing. In fact, it’s been suggested that Google has replaced the CV. When I search myself I find interviews and keynotes long forgotten that never made my CV. And unlike other searchable sources, the information on LinkedIn in in your control. Think about LinkedIn as home plate for your personal brand. If you don’t think of yourself as a personal brand, perhaps you should. LinkedIn will force the issue for you.
It’s a place to park your CV. Even if you’re not planning to go anywhere, hospital administrators, physician colleagues and other members of your world should have a place to go to learn a little bit about you. Even if you’re not a career climber, others need to see what you’ve done, where you’ve been, or what your into. If you don’t maintain any kind of digital property (blog, twitter feed), think of LinkedIn as your anchor online. (Note: While you can pull your Twitter feed into LinkedIn, I agree with Chris Brogan and don’t think you should do this. Alot of our Twitter banter is unrelated to our careers – use LinkedIn status updates to keep your network aware of key speaking gigs or meetings you’re attending. Then leave it at that.)
Patients might want to look. While I stand behind my assertion that LinkedIn is not a primary factor in how patients choose doctors, consider it a service for those who choose to look. And as suggested in the comments by Adam Nash, VP of the search/platform/mobile for LinkedIn, this could potentially serve as a new site for parking patient recommendations. That would be cool.
My reading list – a window to my soul. Okay, that’s a little dramatic. But one feature that I like about LinkedIn is the Amazon reading list. Over the past couple of months I have began compulsively tracking what I read with brief commentary on what I think about it. You can go there and see what I’m up to. Interestingly I think my list says a lot about what’s on my mind and how I’m thinking. I think it’s a professional way to be transparent while helping people understand who you are. I wish more people did this – I love to know what people are reading.
Remember, it’s a tool, not a game. While there are some who look to amass as many connections as possible, much like followers on Twitter, I use it as a place to collect and track the relationships I’ve developed or want to develop further. I can point to everyone in my network and tell you how I have engaged with them. If you randomly want to connect with me and we have not worked together, met at a meeting, served on a panel together or connected in a meaningful way in the social space, I probably won’t reciprocate. It’s just how I use LinkedIn.
Keep up with your professional world. My weekly summary tells me who’s doing what and speaking where. I typically scan over this when it arrives in my inbox. As the numbers of people in your real network grow, LinkedIn provides provides a great way to keep tabs on career moves.
So there you go. As you can see, I’m a huge LinkedIn fan and I think there are ways that every doctor can benefit from its growing popularity.