If you’re even somewhat active in the health IT social media scene, you’ve heard of Mandi Bishop. Although her job title is Healthcare Analytics Solution and Consulting Practice Lead at Dell, the self-professed “data junkie” is perhaps best known (at least in our circle) for her work in developing social media ambassador programs at major conferences, and for being vocal on everything from the lack of focus on patient engagement at HIMSS, to the need to empower women in health IT.
Needless to say, I’m a fan of Bishop. So when I saw that she posted on item on the #healthITchicks LinkedIn Group earlier this week, I immediately clicked on it — not just because I’m always interested in her take, but because this group, which is run by Jennifer Dennard, offers timely perspectives on topics like gender diversity and equality, leadership, work-life balance, and health. But this piece wasn’t about salary disparities or the challenges of working parents.
Instead, it was a call to action. It went like this:
“I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the number of highly-skilled women (and men, of course, but focusing on women here) I have the distinct pleasure of working and collaborating with, and it occurred to me that I shouldn’t just think about it — I should openly praise their skills and accomplishments. I’m pledging — to myself, and now to you — to write one unsolicited LinkedIn recommendation per week. I thought I’d suggest the same to others. At least one person per week has a positive impact on my professional life; it’s time I let them know, and let them decide whether they’d like to share my feedback on their LI profile.”
In just over 300 words, she had changed my entire outlook. Before reading her post, all I could think about was how much I needed to get done on that particular day, and I’ll have to admit, I was having a bit of a pity party. But Bishop reeled me back in and made me think about the importance of elevating others. And the best part is that it wouldn’t require much, just a few sentences highlighting the qualities of a colleague — but those few sentences could make an enormous difference. After all, it isn’t just recruiters or hiring managers who browse LinkedIn profiles, but anyone looking to get more information about a person than where he or she has worked. For example, before every interview I conduct, I search a CIO’s LinkedIn page for recommendations to get a clear picture of his or her leadership style, and I’ll often incorporate those quotes into the interview.
But it quickly occurred to me that I hadn’t been doing my part. I’ve written so few of these recommendations that I can count them on one hand, and it certainly hasn’t been for lack of inspiration. I’ve worked with so many incredible people over the years, from CIOs to PR people to fellow journalists, and it’s about time I started elevating some of them. So I took Bishop’s advice, and I penned a recommendation.
Now, often when this happens, the person on the receiving end assumes that you expect an endorsement in return — this time, that’s not the case. This exercise is about lifting up those who have demonstrated professionalism and had a positive impact on your career — not beefing up your own profile. And so I thought about some of the best people I’ve worked with, zeroing in on those who probably have never asked for a recommendation, and chose Stephanie Fraser, someone I’ve always enjoyed working with (she is currently the senior media relations director with Amendola Communications, having previously spent six years in a similar role with CHIME).
When I finished, I felt like I had truly accomplished something positive, and I was ready to conquer the rest of my day. I’ll take that over a pity party any day.