If you followed the recommendations in my last blog article, your personal social media profiles are now on a privacy lockdown, and you are primed to begin phase two of your professional social media makeover – establishing your personal brand.
Your personal brand, similar to the branding done by major corporations, should highlight the things that make you special: your values, your strengths, your experiences, and the value you add to people’s lives. If you have not done so before, I would highly recommend writing these qualities on paper so that you have a clear source of inspiration while creating your social media profiles. Here is a free guide you can use. Once you have a clearly-defined personal brand drawn up, it’s time to put it to use in creating your LinkedIn profile.
Why focus on LinkedIn?
A well-curated presence on LinkedIn offers several benefits to hearing care professionals. As of 2019, LinkedIn has over 610 million unique users, with 77% of professional recruiters using LinkedIn to find candidates for open jobs.1 Naturally, this makes LinkedIn a great place to find and apply for careers and connect with recruiters who specialize in the healthcare industry. Additionally, with such a massive user base of working professionals, LinkedIn can serve as a great way to educate local professionals about the impact of hearing loss and the positive benefits associated with hearing aid adoption. These working professionals might not have hearing loss themselves, but probably interact with people with hearing loss on a regular basis. This is a prime opportunity to establish relationships with local businesses and encourage them to refer their clients to you for hearing care. As you can see, a well-executed social media strategy offers significant long-term value for the HCP.
Where do you begin though? When creating a LinkedIn profile, or optimizing an existing profile, there are several important factors to keep in mind.
- Use a recent, professional headshot. Your LinkedIn profile must have a photograph. Profiles without images are often judged as unprofessional, and will receive less priority in search results. Meaning when people are looking for a professional in the area, you will appear last behind everyone else with a photo… even if you are more qualified or experienced. When using a headshot, make sure it was taken in the last five years (or less if you have undergone any drastic changes in appearance.) Updated headshots can be taken inexpensively at any department store photography studio. When having headshots taken, be sure to wear not only professional attire, but something that makes you feel amazing. That confidence will radiate into your photos and make them stand out from others.
- Use the appropriate title. Your title on LinkedIn should be no longer than three or four words. It should match whatever title your license or educational credential uses. This could be Doctor of Audiology, Audiologist, Hearing Instrument Specialists, et cetera. Do not include credentials (F-AAA, CCC-A, ABA, etc.) in your title. Instead, your credentials should be listed in the appropriate section of your profile where they can be fully explained.
- Avoid word vomit. While your LinkedIn profile should match up with the information in your CV, it does not need to be a word for word copy. Instead, highlight experiences relevant to your personal brand with short, impactful text. Instead of detailing everything you did at your last job, highlight some of the meaningful changes you introduced and their subsequent outcomes. Where possible, use numbers to re-enforce key ideas. For instance, instead of just mentioning optimizing clinical processes, talk about how your new clinical workflow increased client satisfaction by 15% or decreased follow-up appointment time by 10%.
A profile is not enough – the next steps
Once your profile has been created, the real work begins. There are two important components of using LinkedIn successfully in the long-term: content sharing and networking. Although regularly sharing interesting and relevant content seems daunting, there are tools that exist to help make the process as easy as possible. Using a social media management tool like Hootsuite, you can pre-schedule content to post to any or all of your social media accounts at a pre-determined date in the future. This means you can plan all social media posts for the coming months in a matter of minutes. This saves time and hassle. Just remember to post content people would find relevant, customize each post to your liking, so that it sounds like it is coming from you, and engage with people who like or comment on the information. Also, spend some time browsing your feed and engaging with the content your contacts are posting. You might find some valuable new information!
Networking is one of the most powerful functionalities of LinkedIn. With millions of people using the site, there are countless opportunities to expand your network of professional contacts, gain exposure for yourself and your practice, and even find new client referral sources. When first networking on LinkedIn, start with family and friends. They can review your profile for clarity and spelling/grammar mistakes and make sure you look your best. From there you can connect with colleagues, classmates, or whoever else you would like to know. Word of caution: do not add send connection requests to any of your clients. Rather, if a client wants to connect via LinkedIn they should send you the request themselves. When networking with anyone via LinkedIn, it is important to be respectful, succinct, and follow-through on any promises you make. This will help ensure your online communications are a good experience for all parties involved.
Why now is the right time
LinkedIn is a tremendously powerful tool, which can be used not only to establish yourself as a hearing care professional on the local stage, but also open the doors to new career opportunities and client referral streams. Because there are so many people not utilizing LinkedIn to the fullest extent possible, there is tremendous opportunity to stand out. In combination with other social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, LinkedIn provides a solid foundation for sharing your personal brand. In my next post, we will talk about how Facebook can be leveraged as a fantastic clinical resource for new and existing clients, highlighting the role of your practice in enriching the lives of people with hearing loss throughout the community.
To learn more, here are 46 Eye-Opening LinkedIn Statistics for 2019. (2019, May 9). Retrieved from https://99firms.com/blog/linkedin-statistics/#gref.