Networking on LinkedIn is one of the most valuable ways for physical and occupational therapists to attract new patients. Therapists themselves play a vital role in building a strong online presence to gain new business. LinkedIn makes it easy to build a profile for your clinic and share content, but it’s just as important for each therapist to have an individual profile and curate their online images.
What is personal branding?
You may be familiar with personal branding as it pertains to your clinic. You need to agree on a consistent image to portray to the public. Similarly, personal branding is your carefully controlled online presence, and you should focus on what makes you unique and what kinds of services you offer, according to a personal branding guideline from LinkedIn. Information can get distorted over the Internet, so actively maintaining a presence on LinkedIn and other social media enables you to present a more positive image.
“Patients form connections with their therapists, and a strong online brand can help potential clients get a good first impression.”
Personal branding enhances your visibility online, especially if you include relevant keywords in your profiles that potential patients might type into a search engine. Therapists can increase visibility by regularly updating their statuses on LinkedIn. Share information about current projects or any industry events you’re planning to attend, such as conferences. Additionally, therapists can use their statuses to post news articles about the industry that may interest their connections on the platform. The most important thing to remember is to be authentic. Patients form connections with their therapists, and a strong online brand can help potential clients get a good first impression.
How to strengthen your personal brand
Your clinic’s profile builds on your credibility, but it’s just as important for physical therapists to manage their online images. Once they have an established profile, it doesn’t require much effort to engage with followers. Physical therapy software provider Web PT provided the following tips for therapists to brand themselves on LinkedIn:
- Use a profile picture: What better way to establish a personal connection with potential patients right off the bat than using a photograph? A professional photo is ideal, but if it isn’t possible, make sure it’s a quality image. LinkedIn’s profile photo format is square.
- Professional headline: Names are always displayed with a LinkedIn profile, but a professional headline that describes your therapy specialty is almost as important. Your job title and clinic name are included, but you can also add what specifically you do, such as “Experienced with physical therapy, sports medicine, occupational medicine and pediatrics.” This is crucial because potential patients or referring physicians would likely type these keywords into a search engine to find a therapist that specializes in a particular area.
- Summary: The headline should be brief. You can elaborate on your experience in the summary so interested patients can learn more about your qualifications. This is another opportunity to include more keywords.
- Customize your URL: LinkedIn assigns URLs for every profile, but if you want to share this with physicians or patients or include it in written marketing materials, it can be ungainly. However, there is an easy fix for this issue. When you edit your contact information in your profile, there is an option to change your URL. A best practice is to use your name, but this may be tricky if it’s long or relatively common.
- Ask for recommendations: You can ask for colleagues to write recommendations and endorse you for specific skills. Word-of-mouth references enhance social proof. Recommendations are typically one or two paragraphs and go into detail. Endorsements are simpler because LinkedIn connections can validate your skills with one click. This can go a long way toward building credibility with patients considering your services.
How to make LinkedIn go the extra mile for your personal brand
The outlined steps above are how physical therapists can kick off their personal branding efforts on LinkedIn, but there are several other things they can do to stand out. LinkedIn has groups for professionals in nearly every industry, including different forms of therapy. Posting in these groups or answering other participants’ questions is another great way to strengthen credibility, LinkedIn’s guide suggested. Maintaining an active presence in these groups also helps therapists learn about the kind of questions potential patients would ask before selecting a clinic, which can help inform a marketing strategy.
It’s crucial to be consistent with your personal brand. If it appears in multiple places, such as your clinic’s website and other social media profiles, it’s important to use similar language. You can inject some levity into your brand, but it has to stay consistent across different platforms.
Physical therapists need to put what they do into words that their target audience can understand, according to Allan Besselink, a physical therapy blogger. While therapists know what they do, they can’t assume the same in-depth knowledge on the part of their target audience. One of the most important parts of forming a personal brand is a unique positioning statement that tells potential patients what makes you different from other providers. These statements work best when they sum up the major benefits of your service in as few words as possible. Although lengthy positioning statements can convey more information, readers may lose interest before finishing. Additionally, you need to define your target market to ensure the content in your LinkedIn profile is relevant to the right people.
This article is brought to you by PREFERRED Therapy Providers Inc. PREFERRED is the nation’s leading payor management services network. Our expertise is working with physical, occupational and speech therapy practices – from single clinics to multiple clinic locations.