When working with health IT executives, I notice that one the most important components of their professional profiles is often outdated and incomplete: their LinkedIn accounts. In today’s hyper-connected world, LinkedIn acts as the first window into your professional accomplishments.
LinkedIn is not just for recruiters and search consultants like myself; it is the representation of your personal brand as a thought leader and executive. Keeping your LinkedIn profile up-to-date is even more important than updating your resume, as it’s often the first thing your peers, recruiters, potential employers and those looking to partner with you will seek out.
My colleague Dan Young and I have talked before about how to leverage LinkedIn in your career growth. Here are some things to keep in mind on why keeping your profile updated is important and how to do it:
- LinkedIn is your free ad. As your personal brand, LinkedIn is a means by which other like-minded leaders can connect with you. If you are a CIO leading efforts in digital health, there are dozens of your peers out there that are likely looking for best practices. LinkedIn gives you an opportunity to advertise the expertise you’ve garnered over time — but only if you’ve kept that expertise up-to-date.
- Influencers matter. Technology is one of the most rapidly expanding and transitioning fields in healthcare. An updated LinkedIn profile gives you credibility when speaking to a topic that’s of particular passion. When you write an article that other leaders would like to read, post it to your LinkedIn page. It takes 30 seconds, and the benefits of posting it can pay off for years to come.
- Have a (current) photo. Facebook or Instagram are great places for your vacation profile picture. It’s the perfect way to make everyone in your life jealous. LinkedIn, however, is not the place for those photos. Have a professional picture of yourself taken and use that for your profile picture. And, I cannot stress this enough, make sure it’s a relatively recent picture. The ability to put a face to a name is what helps others to feel connected to you.
- Keep your role current. It may seem silly, but make sure you have your actual current position and job description on your LinkedIn account. See above as to why it’s important.
- Buzzwords are not your enemy. In healthcare technology we can sometimes grow consumed for a period of time on the buzzword of the day, to the point that some words may lose all meaning. Certainly, when you’re interviewing or networking, try not to overload your audience with buzzwords. However, with your LinkedIn profile, feel free to use them. The reasoning is simple: The people using LinkedIn to find you are those that either want to hire you, be hired by you, have an interest in partnering with you, or simply appreciate your work. In each case, those people will often use buzzwords to search for and help identify the leaders they want to follow.
- Have real numbers to share. Outcomes are important in healthcare, and it can be helpful to let others know what kind of numbers and results you’ve achieved. In your job descriptions on LinkedIn, add bullet points related to your successful outcomes. (For example, “Improved staff compliance and participation by 30 percent over previous year.”) Potential partners, collaborators, or employers want to know you can get things done. That’s why it’s important to share specifics about what you’ve accomplished.
LinkedIn is not just for those looking for a new job. For leaders looking to increase their profile and presence amongst their peers and to grow their own name recognition, it can be a powerful tool — if used properly, and kept updated.
Zachary Durst is a senior associate with the executive search firm WittKieffer. He is based in Oak Brook, Illinois, and focuses on identifying CIOs, CMIOs, and other IT leaders in hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers, and health-related organizations.