In March 2011, LinkedIn reached 100 million members, which is actually half as many as Twitter. Of all the social networking platforms, LinkedIn offers the greatest opportunity for professionals to make connections that lead to business.
LinkedIn is quite different from Facebook and Twitter in that its primary purpose is to serve as a networking tool for business to business. It is not an ideal platform to reach out to consumers or patients. LinkedIn is one of the few social marketing tools available that caters to serious working professionals and business owners. LinkedIn is like a giant networking event where people in related fields connect. The point of networking is to meet new people, not just to connect with people who already know you.
To get started on LinkedIn, create a profile. Do not post your entire CV with every accolade and milestone you have achieved since high school. Limit the information to the most recent and relevant positions, posts, titles, appointments and honors you have had. Design your profile to have the impact you want on your connections, as well as to attract new connections.
Think of your LinkedIn profile as your personal introduction at a networking meeting or medical conference. For example, specific academic titles, editorial appointments, and main achievements can help give you credibility, and also serve to make it easier for others to find you.
To increase your footprint on LinkedIn, you can also create a Company Page for your practice, business, medspa or brand.
To get connected with others, the best place to start is with people you already know or who know you. Many of your colleagues are on LinkedIn. You can use contacts from AOL, GMail, as well as a spreadsheet. The LinkedIn toolbar for Outlook provides an easy way of inviting your Outlook contacts and people you e-mail regularly to connect with you.
One of the most effective ways to use LinkedIn is to find potential colleagues, vendors, and business partners. Unlike other social networking platforms that were never designed for businesspeople, LinkedIn allows you to target highly specific searches.
GIVING AND GETTING TESTIMONIALS
Testimonials represent confirmation of the quality of your work, level of your professionalism, and reputation among your peers. The best way to get testimonials is to give them. Join groups that are relevant to your interests and practice. Consider joining groups of interest to you professionally, as well as groups where your potential partners, associates, or colleagues may connect.
A search on “cosmetic surgery” yields 64 groups; “dermatology” reveals 60. The downside to the LinkedIn Group structure is that you are only allowed to be a member of a maximum of 50 groups at any time, so you have to be selective.
LinkedIn status updates are an ideal way of keeping your profile current with your contacts. Updating your status is a unobtrusive way of keeping in touch. Depending on the settings selected, your contacts will get a regular e-mail with a summary of the status updates of their contacts. They will also be able to see at a glance all the updates of their contacts on their LinkedIn home page.
If your status update has interesting information in it, you are more likely to get someone to reach out and send a message or response. Status changes give you something to start a conversation with and will attract new connections who may be searching for one of the keywords in your status update.
Although it is not as social as other networking options, the LinkedIn platform is far simpler to use, straightforward and logical, and does not require daily posting for a busy physician. For professionals and small business owners who want to grow their businesses and their careers through networking, LinkedIn is essential.