Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Using LinkedIn to Boost Your Career Exploration

Author: Heather Fork, MD, CPCC

Is your LinkedIn profile helping in your non-clinical career search? If not, you may be getting stuck at an all too common place-actually speaking with people who can offer valuable advice. This can happen from just not having the experience of successfully contacting someone, or from the reluctance to ask a favor of a complete stranger. Once you experience the power and ease of using LinkedIn for networking, you’ll be sold.

Recently I contacted 4 people through LinkedIn. Two were recruiters, one was a medical writer, and the other was a Medical Science Liaison. Each responded back to my inquiries, with one hardy soul calling me back from the ICU! We had great conversations and I felt like I had made some new friends. I did my best to find ways to be helpful in return.

If you’d like to take more advantage of the power of LinkedIn, here are some steps for getting started:

1. Create your LinkedIn Profile. Build up contacts by inviting those you know and joining relevant groups. If you are connected to someone with 500 contacts, you have potential access to all of these people.

2. Search your area of interest by INDUSTRIES, JOBS, COMPANIES or GROUPS. By clicking on Advanced in the search box, you will be able to target your search.

3. Research a specific company by searching under COMPANIES. Here you can view recent hires, current and former employees, job postings and company statistics. You can also "follow" a company to keep up with the latest information.

4. Study profiles of employees with jobs of interest to you. Note the experience level and career progression. This will give you an idea of what kind of background you need to obtain this type of position.

5. Check for a LinkedIn Group in your area of interest. For example, if want to learn more about being a Medical Science Liaison, search for this under GROUPS. Some groups are restricted while others have open membership. These groups can be for networking, job postings, recruiting, and information sharing. Once you are a member of a group, you are able to contact the others members.

6. Find potential contacts. Now that you have some background information, you are in a better position to connect with someone. To contact a LinkedIn member, you need one of the following:
  • To have their email address
  • To be a friend
  • To be a former colleague
  • T be a business partner
  • To be a member in one of their LinkedIn groups
If none of these are true, you can:
Check your 1st degree contacts and ask for an introduction to the potential contact.
Warning: If 5 people you contact report to LinkedIn that they don’t know you, your account will be restricted. Hint: If your chosen contact has a website listed on their profile, you may be able to contact them through the site.

7. Reach out. Send a personalized message to a chosen contact on LinkedIn. Briefly describe yourself and inquire if they would be willing to follow-up via email or a short phone conversation. Let them know what kind of information you are seeking.
As always, send a thank-you email to anyone who helps you and see how you might be able to return the favor. Helping those who reach out to you is a great way to pass it on.

For additional tips on using LinkedIn click here.

About the author:

Heather Fork, MD, CPCC, is owner and founder of the Doctor’s Crossing. As an ICF certified coach, she works with physicians who are seeking to renew and reinvigorate their careers and avoid burnout. She helps doctors tap into their natural abilities and passion to create new and inspiring opportunities within clinical medicine or through non-clinical options. Knowing that too many physicians are suffering from stress and burnout, Dr. Fork is dedicated to improving physician well-being collectively, as well as individually. Read about Dr. Fork here.

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