Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ways to leverage Twitter to expand your professional social network

Some of you have embraced online social media. You're using social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. You also keep a blog (I hope it's not getting too dusty). You understand RSS feeds and you participate in forums. If you're really advanced, you even have an avatar (image/icon) for your blogs and forums.

So how does Twitter fit into all of this? Recently, people have asked me how I use Twitter. I use Twitter to drive traffic to my blogs, but I also use it to meet tech-savvy individuals who share some common interests. There are many ways to leverage Twitter to expand your online professional social network.

For instance, if you're interested in health IT, wouldn't you like to meet some people who work in the health IT field? Or, if you're interested in drug development, perhaps you'd like to meet some individuals who work in pharma/biotech or who work at the FDA. If you're considering a part-time career in medical writing, wouldn't you want to get to know some medical writers who have successfully made that transition? Do you have questions regarding healthcare consulting? Why not ask some of those questions to people who currently work in that industry?

Twitter is a great way to meet people in a non-threatening environment. You can befriend people quite easily and receive advice/input from them if you learn how to use Twitter (it's quite easy, actually). Here are some practical tips:
  • Retweet (RT) tweets that you find interesting.
  • Don't communicate with people using the "Direct Message" function. Because so many people automate Direct Messages, I know quite a few Twitter users who have disabled that function.
  • If you want to send a direct message to someone, use the "Reply" function using the @ symbol. For instance, if you want to send me a message, tweet: "@DrJosephKim "
  • Follow people back. You don't have to follow everyone back, but it's courteous to those who may experience follow limits imposed by Twitter.
  • Tweet regularly, but don't over-tweet. It's important to come up with a healthy balance.
I also suggest that you leverage other social networking tools such as blogs, LinkedIn, and Facebook since Twitter isn't generally sufficient if you really wish to expand your network. For professional networking, I suggest you use LinkedIn. That's currently considered the "gold standard" for online social networking.

Finally, let me remind you that we have a social network called the "Non-Clinical Healthcare Professionals." This networks is open to any clinician who'd like to explore opportunities in the business side of healthcare. As of today, we have 766 members and the network continues to grow each week. Click here to register and join.

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