Building and managing your social network, both face to face and online, is a core entrepreneurial competence. It should also be a personal care competence.
There are many reasons why a robust internal and external network will help you achieve your personal and professional goals and should be part of your personal business model canvas.
Experts agree that the most connected people are often the most successful. When you invest in your relationships — professional and personal — it can pay you back in dividends throughout the course of your career. Networking will help you develop and improve your skill set, stay on top of the latest trends in your industry, keep a pulse on the job market, meet prospective mentors, partners, and clients, and gain access to the necessary resources that will foster your career development or help you find the necessary resources to build and finance your company.
If you are reading this article, it is possible that you are enmeshed with your career. Psychologists use the term “enmeshment” to describe a situation where the boundaries between people become blurred, and individual identities lose importance. Enmeshment prevents the development of a stable, independent sense of self.
Unfortunately, I think most doctors are linkedout and there are many reasons why:
1. Linkedin is mostly about finding a job. It does not fit the needs of doctors. Unless, that is, you didn't match or a tired of medicine and looking for your next gig.
2. Social media sites are a useful way to educate, inform, market, build networks and communities of interest and build a business or start one. Most doctors are not interested in those things.
3. Doctors don't have the time to actively engage to the extent they need to to be effective.
4. There are many competitive physician networks that offer more of a value proposition.
5. Doctors like to hang out with other doctors and feel uncomfortable expanding their networks outside of medicine.
6. They are afraid of liability risks and are just learning about how to use social media correctly.
7. Using Linkedin is a great way to build international networks. However, 10% will be talkers and the other 90% will be gawkers.
8. Linkedin can be used as a freemium business model. However there are risks and unless you offer a lot to premium members, it will fail.
9. Doctors use professional and specialty associations as advocates, as ineffective as some think they are. Not much get's done on Linkedin.
10. The opportunity costs of their time is high. They don't want to waste what little time they have left each day surfing on Linkedin
Simply put, doctors don't play nice with each other. Compete but collaborate just doesn't compute for the hypercompetitive mindset it takes to get admitted to medical school.
One way to get, keep and grow your network is to expand the AREA under your network curve. That will require a strategy, some tools, ways to drive traffic to your sites and platforms and metrics.
The first step is to create awareness, whether you reach out personally or use social media tools. For example, on Linkedin, you should:
- Have a professional looking profile
- Create a company page
- Join relevant groups
- Create content that that you can post on your company page, website or blog and share with others
- Comment on other posts
- Introduce members to your network who might benefit from the connections
- Prune connections you don't know, like or trust
The value of networks derive more from their quality than quantity. Vanity numbers are relatively meaningless. Consequently, supplement local online links with opportunities to meet, exchange well wishes or congratulate on happy life events or condolences for sad ones.
Here is a guidebook if you need help. Are you an introvert and don't feel comfortable expanding your network? No problem.
Here's how to meet up at a Meetup.
Education and Engagement
Take the opportunity to educate your network members about what you are doing, the progress you are making, the problems you are having, and, when appropriate, invite them to help you and ask if you can help them.
You know you have been successful when you exchange advocacy roles by highlighting successes, encouraging others to follow or connect, championing a cause or organization or writing endorsements, testimonials or recommendations if, and when, you feel comfortable doing so.
In addition, social networks are good for your health. It’s always fun having a friend to high five when you’re feeling fabulous, or to have a shoulder to cry on when you get the blues, but new research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reveals that having more social ties to people at an early age can lead to greater health benefits at the beginning and end of your life.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that measures of physical well-being such as abdominal obesity, inflammation, and high blood pressure, all of which are linked to further health problems, were definitively linked to social relationships, and that aging adults live longer when they have more connections.
Reach out to friends and family to revitalize your social circles. You’ll end up having fun while also establishing a support network for yourself. Even just reaching out by text, online,email, or phone to catch up with people you haven’t spoken to in a while can help strengthen relationships. It doesn’t take much; recent research on adult friendships has shown that having just three to five close friends is associated with the highest levels of life satisfaction.
Social isolation and loneliness are risk factors for adverse health outcomes. Plus, being connected is not only good for your pulse , but it's also good for your purse.
Thanks for being part of the AREA under my network curve.
Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs @ArlenMD and Co-editor of Digital Health Entrepreneurship.