Your online presence is an important part of marketing your veterinary practice and yourself. But a lot of veterinarians have forgotten something—LinkedIn. Failing to optimize your LinkedIn profile is a huge wasted opportunity.
To see how veterinarians are using LinkedIn we conducted a review of the profiles of 100 of our VetMEDResearch panel members. Here’s what we found.
- Eleven veterinarians we searched for on LinkedIn don’t have a profile there at all—a tremendous missed opportunity.
- Sixty-three veterinarians have only brief employment and education data included, the most basic of information.
- Many veterinarians do not have a photo on their LinkedIn profile. And only one had a profile of them with a dog or cat.
- None of the 100 LinkedIn pages we reviewed have endorsements from colleagues or clients.
- Most veterinarians have only a handful of contacts.
Why You Need a Strong LinkedIn Profile
Establish a Strong Network—Just in Case. Even if you are not currently looking for a job, you may be looking for one in the future. If you’re an associate, veterinary technician or office manager, your practice owner could close up shop or downsize you out of a job. If you’re a practice owner, life circumstances, such as marriage, divorce or the desire to be near grandchildren, may propel you to the other side of the country. Or you may decide to cut back on full-time work and do relief work. And what if you someday want to sell your practice? A potential buyer will want to know that you’ve established a strong reputation and contacts over the years that reflect positively on your veterinary hospital.
Opportunities Will Find You. LinkedIn is a headhunter’s and employment recruiter’s paradise. They routinely scour LinkedIn for profiles of people who fit the specific qualifications they’re looking for. Professional associations, community groups, publishers and other organizations seeking particular talent also use LinkedIn to find the right match. You never know what kind of opportunity will show up in your inbox through LinkedIn messaging.
Follow and Participate in Special Interest Groups. LinkedIn is more than just a place to post an online resume. There are thousands of groups on LinkedIn that cater to specific interests. The Animal Health Nutrition and Production group on LinkedIn has more than 26,000 members. The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine has 7,600 members. The Veterinary Radiology LinkedIn group has 4,500 members. There are groups for veterinarians who want to grow their veterinary practices, who are interested in holistic medicine and who have special interests in epidemiology, infections and zoonoses. Want to know about veterinary medicine in Brazil? There are groups for that too. Being a part of a group helps you expand your network—people who can provide you with information and advice when you need it. Think of LinkedIn as a big networking event where people talk and trade business cards.
Follow Industry News. Almost every animal health company has a LinkedIn showcase page so you can follow industry breaking news and information in your newsfeed—just like on Facebook. These companies regularly post updates on new product developments, financial news and legislative and regulatory developments.
Power Up Your LinkedIn Profile
Everything you include in your LinkedIn profile will help build your brand. If you want to position yourself as an authoritative expert on emergency animal medicine, then keep that subject at the forefront of your profile. Include information about your education and certifications. Keep track of articles you write for veterinary publications. Write LinkedIn posts about the latest emergency medicine procedures, drugs and technology that you’re using in your practice.
Here are ways to super charge your profile.
Get a great profile photo. Forget about that photo from vacation at the tiki bar. And it’s not likely your veterinary technician is going to get a good photo using your iPhone. Get a real camera and think about composition and lighting. Eliminate distracting backgrounds and focus on just a head and shoulders shot. Smile and tilt your head a bit. We don’t want a mug shot here. Or get a photo with your dog or cat—as long as your dog or cat can cooperate for a good photo. The best veterinarian LinkedIn profile photo we have seen is Elisa Katz owner of Chicago’s Natural Pet Animal Hospital. The professional looking photo of Elisa sitting cross-legged on the floor with three smiling dogs is a brilliant example of reinforcing a personal brand with a photo.
Think through how you describe yourself. Directly under your name is a text field where you can tell people in headline fashion who you are. This doesn’t have to be your title and place of employment either. There is a whole section devoted to that information in the profile. This headline is how you position yourself right up-front and in the search engine listings. Rather than “Veterinarian, Central Veterinary Hospital,” think about how you want people to know you. Some examples: “Bird Specialist & Exotic Animal Veterinarian,” “Expert Licensed Veterinary Technician for 15 Years,” “Feline Specialist and Owner of Feline-Friendly Practice.”
Ask for recommendations. LinkedIn has a built-in tool that allows you to automatically message connections to request a recommendation that you can post publicly on your personal profile. Rather than use the standard LinkedIn message, make the message personal and specific to your contact. For example, if you’re asking for a recommendation from a co-owner of the practice, you may want to ask that they reference your dedication to the best service to pets and clients or how you always strive to keep up on the latest medical advances. Being specific about what you want makes your contact’s job easier—and makes it more likely that they’ll write the review.
Complete Your Experience. Rather than just listing your places of employment and years, provide a description of all your responsibilities. Bullet-point achievements at the practice. For example, you may describe the wellness plan you implemented or describe how you grew the practice from 10,000 to 15,000 client visits per year.
Highlight Your Volunteer Work – LinkedIn has a whole profile section to describe your volunteer work. This is a terrific place to demonstrate your commitment to animals through your extra-curricular activities.
Complete Your Profile with Honors, Awards, Education, Certifications and Publications – LinkedIn profiles have several sections. Take the time to carefully complete each one to make your profile as robust as possible.
Join Groups and Follow Companies – Every group that you join and company that you follow is included in your profile. So not only are these great ways to network and stay up-to-date, they also demonstrate your interest in connecting and keeping up-to-date.
LinkedIn for Power Users
Once you have established a power profile you can go to the next step and become a power user. Here are some ways to expand your LinkedIn presence.
Connect. Reach out to people you know and ask to connect. This is all automated with the click of a button on LinkedIn, so it doesn’t take a lot of time. Think about co-workers, previous co-workers, veterinary school professors and classmates, colleagues in town and elsewhere, people you serve on volunteer boards with—even clients. Especially clients! Take advantage of LinkedIn’s tools to find connections you hadn’t thought of.
Participate. Scan your LinkedIn news feed, post regular updates, comment and like your contacts’ updates just like on Facebook. But don’t worry, the volume and type of updates you’ll find on LinkedIn are much different than on Facebook. The updates are almost always related to business so there aren’t nearly as many to scan through.
Publish on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has its own publishing platform that anyone can use to post blog-style posts. The publishing tool is intuitive and easy-to-use. You can publish short posts about whatever you find interesting. Search LinkedIn’s Pulse, where all LinkedIn posts are shared, for ideas. Some we found included, “25 Amazing Veterinarian Breakthroughs in the Last 10 Years,” “How to Be a More Efficient Veterinarian” and “Release of the E-Myth Veterinarian.”
Create a LinkedIn Showcase Page for Your Animal Hospital. With your personal profile complete you can create a dedicated page for your animal hospital. It can be a simple page with basic information or you can make regular updates to the page, just like on Facebook. Here’s our VetMEDResearch LinkedIn showcase page as an example.
Get More Training on LinkedIn
If you need help with any aspect of LinkedIn there are dozens of training programs available online, including free and fee-based programs. Many of them offer training in bite-sized videos to walk you step-by-step through setting up a power profile. The good news is that it doesn’t take as much work as you might think since it’s all about you and the information is in your head. Just work on your profile bit-by-bit until you have all the power moves in place.