After many years as the sole optometrist in a busy ophthalmology practice, I found myself feeling isolated. I had excelled in my career managing many complicated ocular disease cases and making a difference in the lives of the patients whom I served; however, I was lacking the collaboration with my peers I had experienced during my residency and years in school.
Being active in organized optometry with the local chapter of the American Optometric Association (AOA) seemed like a great place to get back in touch with my peers. For many years, I served on the board building relationships with optometrists in my community. It was great, and these relationships have helped me to build my personal brand, find a new career path, and develop a referral network for my dry eye center. I was still searching for more, searching for those in the field whom shared my passion for ocular surface disease to collaborate with, bounce new ideas off of, research with, and move our profession forward.
Moving to LinkedIn
On the front porch of a good friend’s beach house, I listened as my husband and friend talked about their connections in business they had made with LinkedIn. How had I not had an account? Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram were something I did daily, but it never crossed my mind that an optometrist would benefit from LinkedIn unless she was on the job search. The first thing I did upon return from this vacation was to start a LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn changed my career path. It has introduced me to leaders in our profession who have a passion and want to share it. Through LinkedIn, I have connected to industry leaders, giving me the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge technology before I read it in print. These new relationships allowed me to realize teaching and research are a possibility even in private practice.
1. Getting started
LinkedIn is your online resume and a place to connect with fellow optometrists, ophthalmologists, editors of publications, key opinion leaders (KOLs), and industry leaders. The basics for your account are a profile picture, name, and professional headline. According to Viveka von Rosen author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day, having a profile picture that is a professional and not including others like your family is essential. With meetings, it’s great to see someone in person you’ve connected with via social media.
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The following sections are customizable:
• Professional headline-120 characters to describe what you do
• Summary-uses 2000 characters to tell your story
• Experience-your job history
The summary section is a great place to showcase your talents and professional success. Never leave this section blank-it’s like creating a website without a homepage. Use headlines within this section to make it more interesting. This is where you can start to develop your own personal brand. Take advantage of the new media features and upload links to presentations or videos to make your profile page unique. You can even create a custom URL for your profile page that you can use for business cards or other correspondence.
2. Building connections
Now that you have your profile page with your own personal touch and wow factor, start building your connections. The goal is for 300 connections but never more than 3,000. Many strive to reach the 500+ mark, but even then you can lose touch with so many of your connections, especially ones who are less active on the site.
My first connections were doctors and KOLs who I really wanted to reach out to and learn from, and the response was amazingly positive. Many of my connections to industry and publications started with LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to take the next step after the connection is made, write a private message, and interact with your peers.
3. Stay visible
Like all social medial, to remain visible to your connections you have to stay active. For LinkedIn, you can post updates to your profile, motivational messages, or links to articles of interest. Join groups. LinkedIn groups are a great way to interact. Using keywords to search, all you have to do is chose groups you are interested in and click “join.” You can join a maximum of 50 groups. When posting, increase your visibility by sharing your post not only with your connections but also with your groups simply by clicking the “share” button and choosing the “share with groups” option. This increases your visibility exponentially.
Students, new grads, docs searching for new jobs, and docs in established practice can all benefit from the connections LinkedIn can offer. Try it out!
Let’s connect! http://www.linkedin.com/in/helpmydryeyes