Remember the Order of Water Buffalos Lodge that Fred and Barney belonged to? As you get started with LinkedIn for dentists I want this image of Fred and Barney in your mind’s eye—two knuckleheads with giant hats schmoozing with lodge buddies. Why? Because it’s a good way to understand “the why” behind using LinkedIn.
In the old days, interacting with people in your local community likely meant belonging to various social organizations—the Kiwanis Club, a bridge club, golf club, the Elk’s Lodge, your church congregation, etc. Of course, those are still great ways to network in person. But today, in addition to traditional ways, tools like LinkedIn provide an opportunity to expand these kinds of local relationships online.
LinkedIn Can Increase Your Visibility In Your Local Community
Frankly, when it comes to the effectiveness of Linkedin for dentists there are mixed reviews. That’s because LinkedIn is primarily considered more of a B2B tool than a B2C tool, and a strong human resources network. There is far less chatter there—which is a two-edged sword. Business-y posts may get more attention, but friendly one-on-one engagement is less likely. Because dental practices are SO relationship based, some argue that LinkedIn for dentists is not as effective compared to more B2C-driven social tools.
I don’t mean to discourage you from using LinkedIn by saying that. You just need to evaluate where your valuable time is best spent. And, you need to consider to what extent you’re personally willing to participate.
For example, it’s much easier for you (especially if you are a doctor who has delegated some of your social media tasks) to maintain a little bit of an “arms-length” relationship with your social media marketing tactics using a tool like Facebook. It’s harder to do that with LinkedIn because the strategy is much more tightly connected to your personal profile. It’s something to think about.
If you’re considering adding LinkedIn to your social media marketing strategy, I’m assuming that your practice is already actively using Facebook, and that you’ve created a dental social media marketing platform for blogging. If not, you may want to be sure you’re spending your precious few hours a week optimizing those opportunities first. They are likely to provide the best traction in the beginning.
Connecting With Different People
One of the great things about using other “spokes” from our Dental Social Media Hub & Spokes™ model is that each tool will have different audiences—so, you will probably meet some people using LinkedIn that you otherwise may not have met other places online.
Don’t ever yield to the temptation of thinking about LinkedIn as a traditional marketing strategy. It’s not. That means it’s not a place where you advertise. It’s not a place where you’re going to have success broadcasting to the masses.
In the short video clip below marketing expert Seth Godin talks about social networking for business and the value in creating REAL relationships. This has huge application to LinkedIn.
Create And Expand “Real” Personal Relationships With LinkedIn
With Seth Godin’s advice in mind, what should your first steps be for LinkedIn?
First, Set Up Your Personal Account
Setting up your account is really easy. Here’s the >link.
Second, COMPLETELY Fill Out Your Profile
This is kinda like taking swimming lessons… We can talk about it all day, but the best way to learn is to get into the pool. You’ll know how serious your commitment to LinkedIn will likely be based on the amount of time and energy you put into completing your profile.
Third, Start Connecting With People You Already Know
Start looking for people you already know—most importantly in your local community. LinkedIn makes it really easy to find those people.
Fourth, Endorse The People You Know
It was Zig Ziglar who said you can get anything you want in life by first helping others get what they want in life. When you endorse the people you know they typically endorse you back, which means they’re sharing your profile with their own trusted networks.
Fifth, Reach Out To People You Don’t Know In Your Local Community
This is easy with LinkedIn.
Sixth (optional), Create A Practice Business Page
Now here’s where our advice may differ from other dental marketing advisors. Some suggest that a dental practice should create a business page on LinkedIn, do a lot of posting there, and optimize the content for search engines because Google indexes it. OK… Let’s put it this way… It can’t hurt. I know that other types of businesses have success with this idea, but does it help a dental practice?
My experience with this has been that it does very little to help a dental practice with search. You can test this yourself by picking any city or community in North America and Google-ing “(city name) dentists”. I have yet to find anything come up from LinkedIn sooner than page 10. (Hmmm… Maybe that’s reason enough to aggressively try it for a year—zig when everyone else is zagging?).
I’m not saying there’s no value in posting to and optimizing content on LinkedIn. I’m sure there are exceptions. And in theory, the more places you are online the more likely people are to find you. But in my opinion, your first objective should be strengthening local one-on-one connections and enhancing your local visibility.
Seventh, Join Some LinkedIn Groups Or Create Your Own
LinkedIn groups can be a good way to engage with people and drive some eyes to your blog. Some suggest that you should start your own group. I think this can be a good idea if you start a group with broader appeal that just dental information. How about a group that focuses on events in your community? Just be sure that if you start a group, you’re in it for the long haul. Be aware of how much work it is. Otherwise, if you choose to not start your own group, participating in other groups can expand your network.
What Has Your Experience With LinkedIn For Dentists Been Like?
If you’ve had successes using LinkedIn in your dental social media marketing, please leave a comment below so we can all learn. Thanks!