Using Social Media to Advance Your Dental Hygiene Career

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Join us as we embark on a series: Social Media for the Dental Professional. In Part 1 we discussed what not do on social media. Here, we explore ways you should use social media to advance your career, and in Part 3 we will consider the future of the virtual dental world and how it will impact you.

With the recent dramatic rise in social media networks geared towards dental professionals, having an online presence is no longer just about having fun with friends— it is now about the necessity of building your professional brand. All-inclusive, interactive networks not only allow for discussion, but now offer the latest dental news, career and CE opportunities, and easy ways to personally connect with leaders and experts within your particular niche.

Every time you participate in a social media network with other professionals, it is like walking into an interview— image is everything. The good news is that in the virtual world, your faux image is everything. Even though you may be in your pajamas and on your second glass of wine, you still must present yourself as if you are alert, in a crisp blazer, and sipping a cappuccino. Creating a professional e-identity that you are proud of will go a long way in advancing your career.

The most important underlying aspect of forming a professional e-identity is to design your image based on who you want to be, not who you currently are. Do you long to get out of the op and into a non-traditional role? Then customize your profile, photos, and phrases to fit that future self. For example, if you want to become a public speaker, you won’t further that goal by using a profile photo of yourself in scrubs. Instead, set up a mock podium and microphone and have some fun with a camera!

Read on to discover more steps you can take to use social media to advance your career!

Steps to Take on Social Media to Advance Your Career

1) Obtain a ‘professional’ headshot

A photo speaks a thousand words— and in the case of a professional headshot, a photo can pave the way to a thousand opportunities. This is your first step in ensuring an online presence of which you can be proud. Many will choose to have a professional photographer take these photos. However, it certainly is possible to do it yourself in just a few minutes and with a little help from a friend.

Tips for a DIY Professional Headshot

  • While it is ideal to use a high-resolution camera, thanks to the low-resolution profile photo requirements within many social media platforms, it is possible to get away with using the camera on your phone.
  • Natural lighting is your best friend. Plan to take the photo mid-day and in front of a window that provides indirect sunlight. Turn off all interior lights to prevent yellow tint and shadowing.
  • Use a white or other neutral-colored sheet or curtain as a backdrop.
  • Position your body at a 30-degree angle from the camera.
  • Use continuous shooting mode to rapidly take hundreds of photos in mere minutes.
  • Experiment with of a variation of smiles, clothes, and even hairstyles.
  • Simple editing is a must. Most photo software has basic editing tools like crop and retouch. These can be used for various things like removing lipstick from your teeth and smoothing out wrinkles in the backdrop.

2) Find inspiration from social media profiles of people you admire

Take a few minutes to explore profiles of professionals you know or aspire to be like. Do you see any particular ones that stand out above the rest? You can utilize their format, photos and phrases as inspiration to create your own profile. See what they do well and put your own unique twist on it.

3) Utilize a LinkedIn profile as your home base

Consider a LinkedIn profile as your foundation and as the first place to which you will direct others. Think of it as an interactive and live resume, and then hyperlink all your posted achievements, experiences, photos, and videos. Immediately begin to connect with others to expand your network, ask for an endorsement from those with whom you have worked closely, and then endorse them as well. Update your profile regularly and don’t hesitate to experiment with different formats.

4) Create a professional email account

Utilizing a professional email account goes a long way in presenting yourself well. A basic email address with your name and credentials is all you need to get started— maybe it’s finally time to bid adieu to your address from your teen years!? Want to appear even more professional? Then be sure to create a signature block with links to your LinkedIn profile and perhaps even include your professional headshot.

5) Update your personal Facebook profile

With the recent increase of Facebook networks geared towards connecting dental professionals with one another, it is now more critical than ever to adapt your personal profile to fit your current self. First, add your professional headshot as your profile photo. Second, scroll back through ten years and remove all photos of which you may be less than proud. Third, synchronize your work history and other details to match your LinkedIn profile.

6) Create a professional Facebook page

While Facebook frowns on users having multiple accounts— i.e., a professional profile in addition to a personal profile— it does allow a single user to have a profile plus a ‘page.’ A Facebook page is a public profile that is specifically created for businesses, brands, and causes. To get started and to maintain consistency, simply copy and paste phrases, links, and other details from your LinkedIn profile.

7) Don’t forget about the power of paper!

When you complete all of the steps above, chances are you will not only increase your virtual networking but dramatically increase in-person networking opportunities as well! Business cards are inexpensive and similar to a firm handshake; they can leave a great first impression. It only takes a few extra dollars to make your business cards memorable and stand out from the rest. How? Be sure they are double-sided and printed on high-quality paper by a professional printer. Include your headshot, your new email address, and a link to your LinkedIn profile.

So what are you waiting for? Take the time to reflect on how you want others to see your virtual professional self, and then begin making the necessary changes today!

In Part 3 of this series, we will explore the future of the digital dental world and how it will impact you and your career.

SEE ALSO: Social Media Dos and Don’ts for the Dental Professional

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