A young healthcare marketer in New England recently asked me for advice regarding career development. After we spoke, it came to me that the nuts and bolts of our conversation would probably be useful to others in the field. With that in mind, I put together this blog post. Please know that this is not comprehensive in nature. It is merely meant to give readers a good starting point on a career development path. With that said, here are 10 professional development tips for young healthcare marketers and communicators:
- Read – There are a number of solid healthcare marketing publications, both print and electronic, that help to keep me up-to-speed on developments in our field. Many of the articles are written by peers from other healthcare organizations and agencies. The list includes Healthcare Strategy Alert, Healthcare Marketing Report, Healthcare Marketing Advisor, Marketing Healthcare Today, and Marketing Health Services. I don’t recommend subscribing to all of them. Select a couple and start there.
- Subscribe – Electronic news feeds and daily eblasts are great for giving you the industry at a glance. I once had a mentor who said that if you read industry pubs 30 minutes a day you’ll be far ahead of 90% of your peers. Interesting thought. Here are a few that I subscribe to: Ragan’s Healthcare Communication News Feed, Modern Healthcare Daily Dose eNewsletter, HealthLeaders Daily News & Analysis, SmartBrief for Healthcare Marketers and HealthLeaders Media Marketing Weekly. These are all free electronic newsletters or new aggregators.
- Attend – Industry conferences are great for any number of reasons. There’s the educational element that comes with attending the sessions. And there’s the benefit of networking with others in the industry. Of course, there has been a proliferation of conferences with the rise of social media. Here are a few that I recommend investigating: Mayo Clinic & Ragan Communication’s Social Media Summits, SHSMD’s Annual Professional Development Conference, The Forum for Healthcare Strategist’s Heathcare Marketing Strategies Summit, and AAMC’s annual GIA conference. Others you might consider include the Social Media & Mobile Technologies for Healthcare Conference, Hospital & Physician Relations Executive Summit, the Annual Healthcare Internet Conference, Physician Strategies Summit, PRSA’s Health Academy Conference, and the Annual Healthcare New Media Marketing Conference.
- Engage – Social media is one important facet of healthcare communication. I continue to be surprised when I attend healthcare marketing conferences and see how few of us actually use social media to keep up with what’s happening in our field. (I’m talking about using social media as a professional tool rather than for networking with high school classmates.) I am amazed by how few healthcare marketers are actually active on Twitter. Please believe me when I say that Twitter is perhaps the easiest and most expeditious way to stay abreast of developments relevant to health communications and hospital marketing. I also love the Healthcare Marketing LinkedIn groups that I’ve joined over the years. I belong to as many as 12 different healthcare marketing groups on LinkedIn. My recommendation is to engage social media (and peers) and take advantage of all that these platforms offer. You will be a better marketer and communicator because of this.
- Follow – There are some excellent healthcare marketing and healthcare social media blogs that I’ve found to be beneficial and enjoyable! Here are a few that you might consider following: Ragan’s Healthcare Communication News, The Healthcare Marketer (one of my blogs), MarketShare Blog (HealthLeaders Media), Hospital Impact Blog, Walking the Path (Path of the Blue Eye Project), Health Is Social (Phil Baumann’s Blog), 33 Charts (Bryan Vartabedian M.D.’s blog – not healthcare marketing, but a great healthcare blog). There are dozens more and I encourage you to explore on your own.
- Join – You should consider joining healthcare marketing organizations such as The Forum for Healthcare Strategists, SHSMD, and your regional healthcare marketing and communications society. SHSMD has a listing of its regional groups on its website. Get involved and take advantage of what these organizations have to offer.
- Invest – If you haven’t already done it, buy a smart phone. At the rate that your audiences are adopting this technology, both physicians and consumers, you will be left behind if you don’t go there soon. To put is briefly, I recommend becoming a user of the technology so you can better understand how it impacts the lives of those in your target audience(s).
- Participate – Start putting yourself out there by participating as a speaker or roundtable moderator at healthcare marketing conferences. This is great experience and helps to build your resume.
- Network – Use conferences, LinkedIn Groups, Twitter and other vehicles to network with your peers. There has never been a time like this where it is so easy to reach out to other hospital marketers across the country. Tools like Twitter and LinkedIn have been career changers for me. And more importantly, they have enriched my life as a healthcare marketer. There is no reason any longer for a marketer to be isolated within his or her organization.
- Market – I am a huge fan of marketing your marketing. As communicators we are often remiss in not promoting our own activities and successes – both within the organization and within the profession. If you’ve done something amazing or something you’re proud of, communicate that within your hospital. Share the news with your leaders and your internal clients. I also recommend pitching your success stories to industry publications; see if they’ll write a story about it. Frankly, you can write the story yourself and submit it to most of the publications, and you’ll stand a good chance of having it published. Once your story is published, be sure to share it within your organization!
So there’s my list of 10 professional development tips. I know you can’t do it all at once, but start by making a list and then take them on one at a time. Good luck!
Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer