Ten Things You Can Do in Ten Minutes To Be a More Connected Health Professional
You need a break and, instead of heading to the coffee pot, take 10 minutes to follow one of these 10 suggestions to be more connected and better at communicating health messages:
- Become a social networker: Take your pick, LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo, … Create a profile, including a picture, and invite some colleagues. If you search, you’ll find many of them already there. (You can connect to me!)
- Try twitter: Join twitter and try out micro-blogging. Invite some colleagues or find some who are already there. Try following me (I am a sporadic user but I post health links occasionally) or try BBC Health.
- Read a blog: Health blogs range from very professional and constantly updated to navel-gazing ones that were last posted in over a year ago. I recommend you start with Well, Tara Parker-Pope’s health blog at the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog, Consumer Report’s Health Blog, or Health 2.0. For contrast, try Leroy Sievers’ NPR blog or one of WebMD’s blogs. Not feeling overwhelmed yet? Do a search on “health blogs” or even “health blog directories” and I guarantee you will be suffering from information overload. Now comment on a blog. Not only do bloggers like to know you read a post, but you undoubtedly have something to contribute. After all, if you wrote a blog post, wouldn’t you like to know what your readers think? Be a producer, not just a consumer!
- Create a blog: You knew this was coming! But only do it if you can commit to posting regularly. If you think you can only post sporadically, start one with a few colleagues. I recommend wordpress but there are many other blogging tools.
- Create a community: try ning and set up an online community about your health specialty. First search to see what else is there. If you find some, check to see how many members they have and the date of the latest site activity.
- Do a search on a health topic: Select a topic of interest to you professionally and do a search. Look at the number of results first. Next look to see if there are sponsored links. Finally, look at the first 10 results and see if you think they represent your topic well. If your work isn’t there, come up with a plan for greater visibility. (If you don’t know what SEO stands for, then at least become conversant with it.)
- Learn how information spreads: Post an article you like (or wrote) to digg, mixx, StumbleUpon, or reddit. Or post a picture to Flickr or a video to YouTube. If you aren’t ready to post, then participate by commenting on or voting on it.
- Use Wikipedia: Have you read Wikipedia’s entry on your health specialty? Read it and enhance it. If there isn’t one there, create it. There are other wikis out there too – for instance, you might want to add your name to the list of Health 2.0 people – and see who else is on it.
- Connect with a person: Email a colleague about something you read or are thinking about. Or pick up the phone. Or even invite someone you’ve been meaning to talk to out for coffee. (See, you get your coffee break after all.)
- Just for fun: What would it take for you to be the first health specialist on TechCult’s Top 100 Web Celebrities list – besides a blog (see #4) and funky hair?
Finally, think of your own idea for a 10 minute activity that can improve your health communication skills and post it as a comment below so others can benefit.
Thanks to the students in Emerson College’s Summer Institute for Social Marketing and Health Communication who inspired this post following my lecture on New Technologies for Health Communication.