I’m a little biased on this topic, since I’m super social and involved in all of social media. However, I can’t understand why people don’t see the value in social media. These same people are ones that would passionately argue for the value of networking. Social media is the next generation version of networking.
Just to be clear, I don’t think social media is the only way to network. Many of the old networking techniques still apply. However, social media is the next generation of networking and provides all of the same values networking provides your career, but on a much bigger scale.
When it comes to your healthcare IT career, this usually means participating on LinkedIn and Twitter. Most of you already know LinkedIn and participate on there so I won’t go into as much detail on LinkedIn. However, I will give two pieces of advice. First, be sure to be active on LinkedIn even when you’re not searching for a job. Far too many people only start to do something on LinkedIn when they’re looking to find their next job. This is a mistake and a missed opportunity. Second, if you’re not participating in some targeted groups, start doing it now. Not only will you learn from those discussions, you’ll also have a chance to get in front of a wide variety of professionals in your field.
Twitter is another great place to network with other people. The reason Twitter is worth the investment is that on Twitter you can connect and communicate with anyone. On LinkedIn, you are mostly restricted to connecting with people you know (except in groups). There’s certainly value in connecting with people who know you, it’s also extremely valuable for your career to connect with thought leaders and influential people in your industry.
To continue the comparison to networking, tweeting someone influential in your industry is like walking up to that influential person at a networking event. The great thing on Twitter is that you don’t have to wait in line to connect with that person. Plus, the person you’re connecting with can see your Twitter profile and tweets and get an idea of who you are before they interact. This often creates much deeper and more interesting interactions than someone who stops you at an event and you know nothing about them. That’s a powerful difference as you connect with influential leaders in your industry.
The problem most people have when they start Twitter is they don’t connect with the right people. They start following all stars and TV shows. That’s like someone going to an entertainment networking event as opposed to attending a healthcare IT event. There’s nothing wrong with doing the former, but if you want to advance your healthcare IT career, you have to connect and interact with healthcare IT people on Twitter. Do the work to find, follow and interact with the right people.
One other piece of advice is to be patient. Networking is a long term strategy to career success. Find a sustainable way to network on these social media platforms. Certainly it makes sense to “sprint” into these social media platforms as a way to learn how they work. However, you can only sprint for so long. After you learn the social media platform, figure out a sustainable long term strategy for how you’re going to use these next generation platforms to advance your career.