Online Networking for Health Professionals
Discover the benefits of professional networking in the health industry. Learn why online networking is important for your wellness practice.
80% of today’s jobs are acquired through networking. Even if you’re not looking for a new job, networking is still essential to strengthening your professional life and finding new opportunities, whether it be new clients or ways to grow your wellness business.
In meeting and interacting with other health and wellness professionals, you’re more likely to find valuable opportunities that will not only create partnerships and other such collaborations, but it can transpire into referrals from healthcare workers, a larger client base, and sometimes long-lasting friendships.
The Benefits of Professional Networking
Obtaining new client leads is something vital you can attain from effective networking with wellness professionals. In a relationship with these individuals, it is more likely that they will value your services and speak highly of you to others, and in return, help you establish a more steady flow of clients for your practice.
Being referred a mutual contact is one of the best ways to obtain a client base. Chances are, a majority of your clients are referred to you by a mutual friend or acquaintance. Develop your networking contacts by asking people if they know anyone who is going to the event that you are attending.
Additionally, advocating your skills and interest to an individual in your networking event can lead to opportunities to collaborate with people on projects in which professional interests are shared. There is always the opportunity to collaborate on a project, study, or program that may be of mutual to you and another wellness professional.
Networking can also open you up to mentorship opportunities, especially if you are just beginning your career. Building a relationship with an established provider in your sector is an incredible way to learn about working in your field, finding opportunities, and creating a career you love.
Why is digital networking important for healthcare professionals?
Digital networking happens when we build connections with our colleagues completely virtually. As telemedicine capabilities continue to advance, digital networking as a healthcare provider is increasingly crucial. Having a network of healthcare professionals spanning many locations and specialties allows you not only to refer clients to the exact right provider for them but also to receive those referrals in return.
Additionally, digital networking can expand your education and views on providing care for your clients. Collaboration between healthcare professionals allows you to hear new perspectives on working with clients with different ailments, learn how others engage with clients, and how they run their businesses.
6 Ways to Start Online Networking with Health Professionals
1. Attend Virtual Professional Meetups
Attending virtual professional meetings is a great way to network with other professionals within your field.
There are a number of websites that facilitate professional groups across a variety of different fields, one being Meetup. Meetup allows you to search for meetings by category, as well as join groups based on your professional field. This is a great way to find connections in different locations, and attend new events to network and learn about what others are doing in your field. Not finding a group you like? Create a new group and recruit your current network to join. As you all grow your connections, more and more providers are sure to join.
As simple as it sounds, checking your email for opportunities is an easy way to find groups to join. You may be on a mailing list from your university or the organization that trained you; it is likely that they will still reach out to you with opportunities that fit your field. There may be meetings or events for alumni to attend, allowing you to reconnect with old classmates and add them to your network.
Joining practice groups for your specialty or demographic allows you to attend meetups with other providers that would be great additions to your network. Check your national organization web page to find groups that may be of interest to you. For example, under the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group has virtual mentorship and meetups for members.
2. Join a Facebook Network Group (or several)
Facebook Groups can easily be used to network with other wellness professionals. On Facebook, you can find relevant groups in one of two ways. First, click on the “Groups” tab on the left side menu. This will load not only suggested groups for you, but also groups that your Facebook friends are in. If you’re already friends with some providers, their network groups may pop up for you to join. You can also simply search for your specialty or client niche to find eligible groups to join.
Once you’ve joined a few groups, this is where the networking starts. In order to gain connections, you must be active in posting and interacting with the other members of the group. You can ask questions of other providers in the group about their practice or specialty, to engage in discussion, and begin to build a relationship. On the other hand, be sure to comment feedback and support on other members’ posts as well. Being a consistently active member will increase your online presence in the group; other members will become more familiar with who you are and feel more comfortable reaching out to you for networking purposes. To take it a step further, create a virtual meetup for interested members in the group, i.e. a virtual “coffee chat” over Zoom, to get to know each other, strengthen your connection, and expand your network.
Join Healthie’s Facebook Group to connect with other wellness professionals who use Healthie. Build your network and learn tips on using Healthie’s platform for success.
3. Get Active on LinkedIn
The first step to effectively networking on LinkedIn is to optimize your profile. Make sure your headline is updated and specific so that potential connections know your specialty and position right off the bat. Be sure to include all relevant experience and a detailed description of it. Your skills should also be included at the bottom of your page so that recruiters and colleagues alike can understand your skillset.
Another way to optimize your profile is to include keywords in your profile. Think of general phrases that recruiters or colleagues might be searching for on LinkedIn, like “dietitian,” “nutrition,” “physical therapist,” etc. Be strategic about including these phrases throughout your profile to ensure that you will come up even with just a general search.
Once your profile is optimized, you can begin expanding your network. One great first step to do is to dedicate a set amount of time each week to exploring your potential connections on LinkedIn. If you click on “My Network” in the top menu bar on LinkedIn, it will pull up the “People You May Know” in your area section. Take time to scroll through and see if there are any suggested connections that would benefit your network.
Having 500 connections makes you seem established in your field, but be sure to not connect with just anyone and everyone. Be strategic about adding colleagues; find people you’ve worked with in the past who will endorse your skills, as well as people who you may want to work with in the future. LinkedIn also has groups you can join and hashtags to follow. This will open you up to new connections you may not know or have a link to already, but who could be beneficial to your career in the long run.
Connecting with others is only the first step. As with Facebook groups, make sure you engage with your connections. Not only should you be interacting with the content they share, but also actively reaching out to connections or offering favors. This way, you’ve opened up the door to a new colleague, and when you need a favor or have a question, this connection will be there to reciprocate.
Aside from interacting with individuals, be sure you are sharing content on your page. LinkedIn is a great place to “show off” your accomplishments to your network. You can share media you’ve been featured in, speak about a conference you attended, or discuss client success (with permission). Also, feel free to share media relevant to your field to show that you are continuously educating yourself and open to learning beyond the basics of your profession.
4. Be Strategic on Instagram
Instagram, being less formal than platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, makes it easier to network with those you don’t know. To begin expanding beyond your current following on Instagram, follow hashtags relevant to your client niche or profession. In order to follow a hashtag, go to your Explore page, and click on the search bar. This will pull up the option to search for “Tags.” Here, you can search for your specialty, or even just general terms for the health and medicine team, if you’re looking to build a network of different providers. From your desktop, however, you’re able to search for a hashtag and then see related hashtags to also follow. Following a hashtag will bring any post with that hashtag to your Instagram feed, so you will see relevant posts from potential connections, even if you don’t follow them.
Tip: Make sure you are adding hashtags to your posts. Not only will this help you reach clients, but it will also potentially put your page in the path of a potential connection.
Once you’ve found someone you want to connect with, you can begin engaging with their posts, follow them, or most directly, send them a message. If sending a message, be sure it is specific and customized to that person; it is easy to tell when you’ve copied and pasted a general message and are just replacing the person’s name. Take the time to explain how you’ve explored their page and express how you want to learn how you can support each other as fellow healthcare providers.
Another great way to network is to tag your colleagues in your photos. This will not only directly alter them that you’ve made a post, but it will make them likely to reciprocate in their future posts. Tagging others in your posts, even if it has nothing to do with them, increases exposure for both of you. Followers will click to see who is tagged and explore their profiles to see if it may be something they want to follow. This is a simple way to grow your network that takes little time or effort. However, be sure to vary who you tag in posts. Tagging the same provider over and over again won’t help you reach a new audience; tag colleagues from different specialties so that you can build a diverse network and follower base.
5. Present at Virtual Wellness Conferences
Virtual wellness conferences have been gaining popularity even before the COVID-19 pandemic, as it affords healthcare workers a convenient and often affordable form of continuing education. A great way to gain connections is to present at an upcoming virtual conference. When you take the time to research and prepare a topic to present to others, you will become recognized within your healthcare sector as an “expert” in your specialty. The more you present, the more opportunities you have to grow your network and recognition among your colleagues.
To start seeking out speaking opportunities, try joining a professional organization for your specialty or niche. Here you will be able to hear about public speaking opportunities within your field that you may be able to participate in. Even if you don’t get the opportunity on your first try, be sure to attend still. This will give you the chance to speak with the event organizers and other colleagues to expand your network and get your name out there as a potential speaker for the next conference or presentation.
6. Create Content for Yourself and Other Wellness Professionals
Creating content like blog posts, educational videos, and posts, as well as resources for clients, is a great way to show your value as a healthcare provider. Having this content on your page is definitely a good first step, but to build a strong network, expanding where your content is posted is key.
Look for media opportunities, such as contributing to a news article, guest-writing a blog post, or “taking over” another provider’s Instagram account for a day. Putting your name on content shared by others will expose you to their network and follower base. As you become more established, companies may reach out to you for comments on their articles.
When getting started though, just simply reach out to everyone and anyone who fits your criteria. Ideally, it should be a connection that you will both benefit from. Find a provider with a similar specialty whose following would enjoy your content or a provider that you may be able to build a referral network with. You can even offer an exchange so that the other provider gets exposure to your community as well. Now, you’ve set a relationship with this provider and shown their community your knowledge and skills.
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