Think about the strength of a personal brand as you consider names such as Dr. Oz or Sanjay Gupta. Whether or not you enjoy watching them or reading their writing, you probably recognize the name and certain images or topics come to mind immediately. Personal branding doesn’t mean you need to become a household name. It doesn’t indicate that the paparazzi will ever be waiting for you to emerge from a building or vehicle. And it certainly doesn’t mean growing your ego or adopting a higher-than-thou attitude.
Building a personal brand is especially important for entrepreneurial physicians and those with non-traditional careers or their own businesses. Here’s what it can do for you.
Building your personal brand will…
1. Solidify your own importance
Earning new work and gaining customers isn’t the only reason for physicians to build a person brand. Though those are nice consequences. To succeed as a business-minded physician, you need to make it clear what makes you different from the other professionals in your field. This could be a certain expertise or simply a perspective that comes through in your messaging.
2. Provide something to your customers that is not easily replaced
If your customers can obtain what they need from a slew of other physicians or if your dream employer has 18 other candidates just like you, you need to boost your personal brand. Recognize what it is that you can provide that can’t be simply replaced by someone else or by another service.
This could be part of the customer relationship that you build, something that makes your service stand out, or the teamwork you’re able to foster when you manage a group of employees. Regardless, ensure that it comes through on paper (eg your cover letter) and when you interview for a position or meet with prospects.
3. Leverage your strengths to accomplish your professional goals
Having a brand typically means you need to cultivate skills to go along with it. Identify your natural abilities or areas of your work that you’re already good at, and become great at them. For example, perhaps patients always tell you that you’re the first doctor that actually explained their diagnosis in a way they can understand. Capitalize on your communication and education skills to build your brand.
A great brand doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s easy to put brand-building on the back burner. You’re a doctor – you probably work a lot. But putting in even small efforts will compound over time. Time you put in now will save time and frustration later.
4. Complement the work that you do
Just “doing the work” isn’t enough. You can do impressive, significant work within your area of expertise, but you’re missing out if only your paying clients are aware of it. Don’t hesitate to put your successes on display.
Many doctors aren’t great at marketing themselves (though I’m sure you can think of a few acquaintances that overdo it with the self-promotion). In non-clinical work, customers won’t come to you automatically as though you’re an ER physician with a full waiting room. You need to get beyond the tendency of physicians to distance themselves from self-promotion. In any work related to medicine – in and outside of patient care – advertising is a must.
When you fully understand the value you add to your customers, this should come naturally and won’t come across to your potential customers as intrusive or dishonest.
5. Set foundations early for a successful career trajectory
Early career physicians – you may be thinking this isn’t important for you yet. Not true! It’s definitely not too early to begin defining your personal brand. At the least, give it a solid foundation now so that you can build on it over time. Building a brand, a reputation, and a readership isn’t instantaneous. Figure out how to set yourself apart from competition now to assist you in your professional future.
Building a personal brand as a young physician will also help you clarify your goals. The process requires that you understand what you want to gain from your endeavors. By necessity, you’ll have to do some soul searching. Developing this clarity early on in your career gives you ample time to revise and further isolate your objectives as time goes on.
Getting started in building your personal brand
A great way to get started is by building a well-written, intentional Linkedin profile.
Take these steps:
- Upload a professional photo
- Claim a vanity URL
- Write a headline that accurately reflects your professional interests
- Include a short and descriptive summary
- Provide a link your website, if you have one
- Tell a story with your experience, education, and activities
- Join groups that align with your goals
- Check and update your privacy settings