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Social Media 101: Twitter, Part Three

February 6, 2009
by Gwen Darling
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Attracting healthcare IT talent

Well here we are at the end of Twitter Road. In case you’ve become Twitterpated and don’t recall where we’ve been, let’s recap our journey. In Part One, you learned the definition of Social Media, and were introduced to the concept of Twitter, a micro-blogging platform that allows you to share thoughts, ideas – whatever you want – 140 characters at a time. You learned how to set up a personal Twitter account, and, if you did your homework, found at least 25 people to follow. With great anticipation and excitement you then embraced Part Two, where you were given some personal trade secrets about how to find the most desirable fellow Twitterers to follow. Continuing through Part Two on the edge of your seat, you were handsomely rewarded, as you were given a prize list of esteemed Healthcare IT industry colleagues and instructed to observe their Tweets. So here we are at Part Three of our Twitter series, finally ready to remove the training wheels and take the corporate recruiting Twitter account for a spin.

As I’ve suggested before, it’s best if your personal Twitter account stays separate from your professional hospital CIO account. Therefore your first step is to set up a new Twitter account. Because you are able to display your real name in addition to your Twitter name, and in this case you are Twittering in an official capacity, I recommend incorporating the hospital name and your title, if at all possible. For example, “StJohnsCIO” for your Twitter name, and “Bob White” for your profile. This approach helps to extend the reach of your hospital’s brand, makes it easier for others to identify your occupation, and allows your successor to assume the Twitter account should you desire to seek greener pastures.

OK. You’ve got your corporate Twitter account set up – now you’ve got to pinpoint who you want follow, in the hopes that they will return the interest, and help you to build a strong Twitter recruiting network. BT (before Twitter), what type of person did you contact to assist in your recruiting efforts? Healthcare IT recruiters? Other CIOs? Vendors? Healthcare IT Job Board Managers? Yes? It’s no different on Twitter – follow your industry colleagues, and they will follow you.

Finding this group takes a little detective work. You can use the “Search” feature, or the “Find People” function to get started. However, I’ve find the best way to populate my network is by raiding the “Followed” and “Following” lists of other influential and respected Twitterers in our industry. Mr. HIStalk, for instance, has 131 followers. Not a huge number, but a quick scan proves his followers contain primarily Healthcare IT professionals, with some who are most certainly looking for a new opportunity. Follow them! The HealthcareITJobs Twitter followers are definitely either Healthcare IT professionals who are in the market for a career change, or recruiters who may help you find the perfect candidate. Follow them! And so it begins…

Now that you’re growing your network with targeted, relevant, valuable industry colleagues, what, specifically, should you be Tweeting in order to recruit Healthcare IT talent? And since you’re just beginning to build your network, how are you going to get the word out past your small group of followers? So glad you asked! Take a look - here’s a recent Tweet from HISRecruiter, a recruiter from Noesis Health:
Since I follow HISRecruiter’s Tweets, I saw her message. This particular recruiter happens to post jobs on HealthcareITJobs, so we’ve become acquainted. She’s relatively new to Twitter, and at this point has only 32 followers, BUT, I have more. So as a courtesy to HISRecruiter, and to my followers who are looking for new opportunities, I “reTweet” her message like this:

Now her message has gone beyond the boundaries of her personal network, and expanded into mine. Chances are quite good that others will follow my lead, and reTweet as well, which means that a new Twitterer with 32 followers has the power to broadcast her specific recruiting needs to untold numbers of highly targeted, receptive potential candidates. For free.

Now, would I reTweet every Healthcare IT job opening that shows itself in my Twitter account? No. I don’t have the time (more on that in a minute) or the desire to do so. But since I have a relationship with this particular recruiter, and frankly, like her, I’m happy to help out. And that, really, is what Twitter is all about. It’s about finding common ground, networking with familiar strangers, and striking a balance of give and take so that everyone benefits. Used respectfully and intelligently, it’s a powerful recruiting tool!

FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS:

1. Restrict your Twitter time and stick to it. Twitter can be a huge distraction and it’s easy to get caught up in following fascinating links and answering inquiring Tweets and before you know it you look up and it’s lunchtime and you haven’t accomplished a damn thing. (Don’t ask me how I know this.) I spend 15 minutes first thing in the morning and 15 minutes at night on Twitter, and I find that works for me.

2. Set a limit to the number of people you are following. Your goal should be to find true meaning and benefit from the 140 character words of others, not to clog your screen with the thoughts of everyone you think may be interesting at some time down the road. You can always add and subtract who you are following to keep it manageable.

3. Don’t be afraid to show a little personality. Just because it’s a corporate account doesn’t mean you have to be boring and stiff. If you’re working on a cool new project and are excited about it, share it in a Tweet. Read a great article that you think is worth sharing? Tweet it. You never know, your next new recruit may find your message during a keyword search, think, “that’s the kind of person I’d love to work for!” and send you her resume’.

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