Social media 101: 3 ways health care professionals can build their employee brand

This week marks the start of the Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare (AOHP) Annual Conference. This conference, one of the largest in the occupational health sector, provides an opportunity for occupational health professionals nationwide to gain insight into news and trends shaping the occupational health sector and further their education and expertise.

It's no secret that there is strong demand for health care professionals, and opportunities in this sector are only going to increase. So, there is no better time than the present for health care professionals to start thinking outside the box when it comes to building their own personal brand and cultivating their professional footprint.

At this week's conference, our health care group is leading a round table discussion on the same topic. This discussion will focus on how today's health care professionals can leverage social media to build subject matter expertise, gain visibility in their field, and expand their networks. And we wanted to share some of these same tips to you, so here they are.

Jump into the blogosphere.

There are probably hundreds of millions, if not billions, of blogs, plenty of which include health care as a topic of conversation. Blogs have become such an important source of news that almost every media outlet, association, and company focusing on health care has one. Getting connected to various health care blogs will not only keep you up-to-date with trends in your industry, but it will also help you become a subject matter expert in your particular niche.

What to look for:

    • Blogs that directly discuss occupational health and safety issues

    • Blogs that cover issues that are closely related to occupational health issues

    • Blogs that interest YOU and on which you can draw a connection to occupational health issues

    • Popular media blogs (e.g. news, entertainment, politics)

    • Blogs that allow you to comment and have high content traffic

What to do:

    • Read: Dedicate time periodically to briefly read blog headlines (Try Google Reader).

    • Comment: If you find a blog entry interesting, comment on it, and include a link to your LinkedIn (or other online) profiles.

    • Share: Add links to posts you find interesting on your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, and if you're on Twitter, tweet the links to your followers.

Become part of the "in" crowd.

LinkedIn, that is. The best professional network site available, LinkedIn enables you to connect with peers and potential employers that you otherwise wouldn't have access to. There are roughly 175 groups on LinkedIn dedicated to occupational health and 1,600 more specific to health care.

What to look for:

    • Membership: Groups with higher membership counts have broader perspectives.

    • Activity: Look at the discussion count and the date and frequency of new discussion contributions.

    • Network: Scan member lists to see who in your network is connected and contributing.

What to do:

    • Monitor: Check the group homepage to see which member of the group holds the greatest influence.

    • Participate: Add input to active discussions.

    • Engage: Engage members of the network directly to inspire thought and collaboration.

    • Like: Press "like" on discussion or shared links you find interesting.

    • Initiate: Start new discussion topics.

    • Take over: Look for groups with low membership numbers and start to drive new members and conversations.

    • Start: Start a new group in an area currently not covered.

Get personal.

Many of you might already be using social networking sites, like Facebook, to stay connected with friends and family. But these sites are invaluable for building your professional network. On Facebook alone, there are 4,700+ groups and pages related to health care that you can leverage to build your personal employee brand.

What to look for:

    • Membership: Identify groups and pages with higher members or "likes." Groups offer greater access control and can send e-mail. Pages send updates to fan inboxes.

    • Useful wall: Scan the wall to see if the discussion is collaborative or just informative. Collaborative groups and pages offer greater opportunity to participate.

    • Info: Read the intent of the group on the Info page. Is there a formal affiliation?

What to do:

    • Monitor: Be mindful of the discussion.

    • Participate: Write on the wall, share links, post photos of recent events, etc.

    • Friend: Add your professional network to your Facebook friends list.

    • Like: Like links on the group/page wall. Use the Facebook "like" button found on other sites.

Again, social media can be a very valuable tool for building your personal brand and your marketability as a health care professional. The tips above are a good framework for getting involved, but your success will ultimately be determined by the amount of effort you put forth.

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