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Social Media 101: LinkedIn, Part One: Build Your Profile and Connect!

February 13, 2009
by Gwen Darling
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As we continue our exploration of Social Media, we now turn our attention to my second favorite Social Media tool, “LinkedIn,” an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. Before we begin, I do want to share a personal aside with you, and this is the honest truth. I would not be writing this blog post if it weren’t for LinkedIn. But more on that later. At over 35 million members strong (and according to their Web site, growing at the rate of one new member per second!) chances are good that you’ve already encountered LinkedIn in one form or another – in creating your own profile, viewing the profiles of current and potential Healthcare IT colleagues, or maybe even just by running across a LinkedIn link in an email signature file.

But what, exactly, makes this resource any different than your kids’ Facebook or MySpace pages? Simply put, LinkedIn is a social networking site for grownup professionals. According to a link in a reputable Tweet I followed this morning, the typical LinkedIn member is a 40-yr. old business professional. Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members. In other words, LinkedIn members are not there to write on your wall, send you a virtual drink, wish you Happy Birthday, invite you to Prom, or share boozy scantily clad photos from Spring Break (how many of you just said, “Bummer?”). Instead, LinkedIn members are looking to strengthen their existing connections, expand their reach by connecting with new industry colleagues and groups, and broaden their professional horizons by tapping into the collective brainpower and experience that is abundant throughout this network. A blurb on the corporate Web site explains further:

“Our mission is to connect the world’s professionals to accelerate their success. We believe that in a global connected economy, your success as a professional and your competitiveness as a company depends upon faster access to insight and resources you can trust.”

PR hype from a PR type? No…not really, because, just like Twitter, used intelligently, LinkedIn has the power to open doors and make introductions that are just not possible or practical using traditional networking methods. And, just like Twitter, LinkedIn is a resource that needs to be experienced before it can be fully explained and maximized. However, you’ll probably be happy to learn that unlike Twitter, once your profile is created, LinkedIn does not require daily upkeep and interaction in order to be maximized. Ready to begin?

Go to LinkedIn, and register to set up your free LinkedIn account. Done well, your profile will take time to build. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it all at once – I’ve been working on mine for months and continually add and subtract and tweak, depending on what projects I’m working on at the time, and what kind of projects I hope to attract. Keep in mind that your content is searchable by others who may be looking for your expertise, your job opening, or even your particular hospital, so make sure to be descriptive and include specifics.

For example, this CIO Summary is far too vague, and would not come up in many advanced searches:

An experienced Chief Information Officer and Information Technology executive with over 25 years of healthcare technology and management experience. A reputation for creating and implementing strategic solutions that address business challenges in a practical and efficient manner. An executive with a record of accomplishments that include consensus building and motivating staff to achieve high quality standards. An individual able to communicate effectively with all levels of the organization.

This CIO Summary, however, contains specific skills, knowledge, and expertise, and is highly searchable:

An experienced Chief Information Officer and Information Technology executive with over 25 years of healthcare technology and management experience.
 

• 7+ years experience conducting research on core managed care information systems solutions. (2002-present)
• 7+ years experience in conducting analysis of business operations particularly relating to healthcare organizations. (2002-present)
• 7+ years experience in developing Request for Proposals and contract documents for information technology projects (2002-present).
• 7+ years experience evaluating solicitation documents such as Request for Proposals and Request for Quotes for information systems. (2002-present)

Specialties

Healthcare software and system: Quadramed Affinity (HIS), CPSI (HIS), Kronos (payroll), mediclick (material management), CCA Aspyra Lab, CCA Radiology, GE Centricity PACS, ABG Choice Materials Management system, Quadramed Quantim. 3M coding, SMART coding compliance, Omnicell pharmacy, Dictaphone powerscribe transcription, Pyxis, IMACs, DSG.

Is it a royal pain to write a solid LinkedIn profile? You bet. Is it worth the time and effort? Absolutely. And because you only have to build the foundation once, the upkeep/updates are much less painful. So, once you’ve completed the first pass, the rest is a snap, and can actually be fun as you start to impress even yourself with your long list of accomplishments!

Convinced? Okay! Your homework for Part 1 is to start building your LinkedIn profile, and find 25 connections in the next week. LinkedIn has built in functionality that will assist you in this endeavor, using your Outlook and/or Web-based email address books. You’ll be amazed at how many of your friends and colleagues are already LinkedIn!

Next week, we’ll look at the expanded benefits of growing your industry network, learn the most efficient ways to target and contact potential new connections, and discover how to use LinkedIn to harness the collective experience, knowledge, and insight of your LinkedIn colleagues.

The following week, we’ll look at how to maximize the many Linked In tools available to find and recruit Healthcare IT professionals, and/or how best to use LinkedIn to pursue your own new opportunity! Stay tuned!

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