Are you LinkedIn or LeftOut?

Note: Every now and then I submit a post for the “Faculty Voice” blog for physicians. I don’t normally repost what I wrote there here but this post is relevant to everyone.  And, I am lazy these days. 🙂 The holidays make me want to just eat and then sleep.

Disclaimer: I didn’t come up with the title myself. I wish I had creative sparks like this. Dr. H just threw it out of his hat. 


Years ago I attended an international youth event of young people from across the globe. The participants learned a lot about each other’s culture and many friendships were developed. Naturally, everyone vowed to keep in touch. It was a futile effort because after a while it was difficult to keep up. Basic email was insufficient. That was before the advent of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Today, these tools make it easy to maintain relationships with colleagues, friends, and family.

I select LinkedIn as a tool for faculty because of the reasons below:

1. It is easy to sign up.
2. It requires little effort.

All of the social networking sites are easy and free to sign up. If you want premium services, you have to pay a few extra dollars a month. But, for most people, the basic package is more than enough. I select LinkedIn because it is a social networking site for professionals and hence it is more “formal” than Facebook. LinkedIn users are more apt to share “worthy” news than Facebook users. By that I mean that you won’t see your LinkedIn “connections” sharing that she/he is feeding her puppy. They are more likely to share that they are going to speak at a conference.

Once a LinkedIn profile is set up, it can be “set-aside” for a few months. The same is true of Twitter and Facebook but those two sites are more activity-driven – meaning you are expected to update your status, upload photos, and stay active. Faculty are busy and time is important. You may not have the time to do those things.

So, what are the benefits of Linkedin?

Bryan Vartabedian, M.D. wrote on 33 Charts that “LinkedIn is one element of digital footprint that [you] can control.” That is beautiful. I can assure you that a patient, a colleague, a somebody somewhere has searched or is going to search for your name on Google or Bing. You should control the message you want these folks to have of you. Showcase your skills and accomplishments so that you are not defined by some obscure article you’ve written years ago and do not even remember. Control your “digital footprint” by defining who you are in your own terms. You can even import your CV to LinkedIn. Rather than spending time writing about the additional benefits of using LinkedIn for faculty, I am going to refer you to Dr. Vartabedian’s article.

I do have a tip to share. Forgive me for saying the obvious: LinkedIn is a social networking site so you need to be social. It is a simple concept but some people miss the point. I love it when people reach out to connections outside of their network. And, I love it even more when successful people are willing to accept an invitation to connect with some one less “seasoned” in their career. That is a sign of a true social connector – a person of grace and generosity.

There are also a few things you can do to spice up your LinkedIn profile. The most crucial one is to have a professional photo on there. Studies show that profiles with photos are 70% more likely to be reviewed.

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