LinkedIn is a social networking site designed for the business community. The site allows registered members to establish networks of people they know and trust professionally. To be LinkedIn is to be part of a business and professional network.
It was founded in 2002 and is now owned by Microsoft. With over 500 million users worldwide, it boasts about 130 million users in the United States. It currently posts about 10 million jobs.
The primary feature that defines LinkedIn is each member's profile. Your profile can be thought of as a dynamic visual resume.
My LinkedIn Story
I updated my LinkedIn profile and submitted my name to the job listings page. An entrepreneur contacted me shortly thereafter looking for a physician with my skills to join him as a minority partner in a new venture: to open a brand new urgent care center.
He had spent two years researching the business opportunity. He had plans to open a clinic in a region north of Chicago that had a deficit of urgent care services, so he messaged me through LinkedIn and started an online conversation.
About six months later, following some negotiation, I signed several agreements. I purchased stock in the new company, and gave notice to my then employer that I was leaving my job as chief medical officer.
Fast forward two and a half years. PromptMed Urgent Care has grown from nothing to a very active clinic, treating 40 to 50 patients per day on weekdays (a bit less on weekends).
Reasons to Be LinkedIn
For physician managers, executives, consultants, coaches, pharma representatives, or those planning to pursue a career in any nonclinical field, LinkedIn is a must.
Here are the reasons I find it so useful to be LinkedIn. Most of them relate directly to its status as an online resume, which facilitates the following activities.
1. Job Hunting
By updating in your profile and participating in LinkedIn jobs, you can constantly receive alerts about new jobs that match your search criteria. Remember, your profile is an online resume. It needs to be detailed, clear, complete and authentic, like any resume or CV. But it can present much more information, and is suited to providing details of your values and long-term goals.
It should contain your complete employment history (no gaps), educational background, other experience, and endorsements from those that know you well (professionally).
Think of this as creating your own personal brand that can be used for a variety of purposes, but especially job hunting. Describing your vision, values, goals and passions can be very attractive to employers looking for certain attributes.
2. Connections and Followers
LinkedIn provides recommendations for potential connections in an ongoing basis. You can cull your existing email lists and or manually search for connections to add. But LinkedIn also facilitates the process of identifying new connections.
It will use your first degree connections to identify second and third degree connections. You can message them and invite them to connect. (Premium services are more helpful and flexible in this regard).
You can identify people in your workplace, and alumni from your undergraduate school, medical school, and residency programs to connect with or follow.
Once you've developed this network, you can sort and categorize them for information you want to send them. You can message them, ask them questions, and consult with them in ways that helps each of you professionally.
I currently have almost 550 connections and another 20 members that follow me.
3. Get Published
LinkedIn encourages you to post articles to showcase your expertise and writing skills. This will help with your career advancement, but also with network development and promotion of your side business or consulting practice.
Posting on LinkedIn enhances your authority and reputation by allowing you to share articles from other sources, or your own original writing. You can repurpose chapters from books or blog posts you've written.
If you happen to write your own blog or host a podcast, by posting articles on LinkedIn, you can encourage readers to visit your sites, and generate business for any venture you may be involved with.
I post my blog articles directly to LinkedIn using Buffer, and they typically generate about 200 views each, depending on the topic.
The last article I posted, Every Emerging Physician Executive Must Learn These New Skills, received 364 views. My most popular article, The Best Hospitals Are Managed by Physicians, attracted 554 readers.
There are hundreds of groups on LinkedIn that can expand your reach and serve as a source of education and networking. I'm personally a member of 14 groups, most of which are related to physician leadership, hospital executive interests, and non-clinical careers. I also enjoy the conversations posted to the Writing on LinkedIn Group.
These groups serve as another source of connections. You can interact with your group members even if they are not one of your connections or followers. You can post specific articles and opinions to your group and thereby encourage interaction with other members. I find this to be a very useful reason to be LinkedIn.
5. Great News Source
Depending on your connections and the groups you've joined, you will receive an ongoing flow of information similar to that of Facebook and other social media sites.
You can access the news in two ways. By following other members, you receive their posts. To follow new members, you can manage your feed preferences by clicking the More icon on any post. Then you add persons to follow from the Improve My Feed list, or the Followers list.
News and other content is also delivered to you daily from each of your groups. When you enter the Groups area, you're be presented with Today's Highlights, which presents a personalized selection of conversations from your groups.
6. LinkedIn Learning
LinkedIn Learning grew out of LinkedIn's purchase of Lynda.com. It has taken this content and merged it with its professional networking. I believe there is a monthly fee to access LinkedIn Learning, but it is included in Premium memberships.
There is a library of over 9,000 digital courses. And LinkedIn Learning will create personalized recommendations of courses for you, based on your interests and expressed needs. These courses can be accessed anytime, anywhere on cell phones and other personal devices.
I've just begun to explore their business courses, and they look very professionally produced.
Bonus Reason: It's Free!
One of the big reasons to sign up is that you get all of this for free. There are premium services that can sometimes be useful, but are not required. Everything I've presented is free, except for the ability to reach out to second and third degree networks, and LinkedIn Learning, both of which are included in the premium membership plans.
I've been growing my network on LinkedIn for about two years, mostly using the free membership.
Any physician that has professional activities outside of clinical medicine, particularly a career as a hospital or medical group executive, consultant or coach, absolutely must have a LinkedIn profile. However, to have a poor LinkedIn profile may be worse than having no profile.
So, if you join LinkedIn, be sure that you complete your profile 100%. You should upload a professionally done portrait. And you ought to clearly articulate your goals and values. I would also recommend you check out LinkedIn Learning to see if there's information there that can be of benefit to you.
Have you found LinkedIn to be valuable? Do you have questions about LinkedIn?
Please add you're thoughts and questions in the Comments. I will respond to them all.
Thanks for joining me.
Until next time.