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LinkedIn: Networking with Communities of Interest

By Terri Ottosen, Consumer Health Coordinator, NN/LM, SE/A Region

LinkedIn is a professional networking site that allows you to discover like-minded people and join discussions on specific topics. In addition to marketing yourself professionally, job seekers can update their profiles and include activities and a full range of interests. However, there is the potential to go even deeper with this professional tool and connect with different interest groups.

Finding groups can be tough but it can be worth your while to seek out like-minded individuals and groups. LinkedIn is a vast network with over 50 million members and more than 16,000 IT-related groups alone.[1] Under the Groups tab, you can search LinkedIn Groups using keywords. Searching the term “library” produced over 1400 potential groups. Joining these groups connects you to many people and allows you to start or participate in group discussions, which helps to keep you updated in the field.

Another great feature of LinkedIn is the ability to search for other groups you may like based on your existing contacts. There is also a Group Directory for searching. Some groups are open and others are members only, but each group that I’ve asked to join has readily accepted my request.

As Consumer Health Coordinator for the Region, I’m interested in a wide variety of consumer health and patient care topics. One of the classes I offer is the Canny Consumer, which contains a variety of resources in eHealth and patient informatics. I strive to keep informed of issues pertinent to the electronic medical record, health care reform, and the revolution of e-patients. If you’re also interested in consumer health or these topics, here are a few groups I have joined that you may be interested in:

  • Patient Navigator – With over 1000 members and a number of subgroups, this group discusses many issues surrounding what it means to be a patient today. Some of the recent topics were about speaking up at the doctor’s office, a patient harm Facebook group, the billing process and the new ICD-10 deadline, new tools for navigating cancer information, and many, many more.
  • Digital Health – As you can imagine, this group covers a wide range of interests. Recent topics included: medical and health apps, global health innovations, Bluetooth possibilities in the market, the most popular health app per country, and emergency workers scanning QR codes to access health information in Marin County, California.
  • eHealth Literacy – Health literacy is a topic near and dear to all of us in the Region. Some topics discussed recently were: how effective communication contributes to health equity, a vote on which sub-agency of the Department of Health and Human Services should be a top priority for plain writing improvement, and usability testing after the PlainTalk conference. Nancy Patterson, Community Outreach Coordinator, successfully received some great suggestions from the group when she asked about national bench marks for health literacy.
  • Connected Home Networking – Because I believe there is an upcoming revolution in consumer health and technology, I monitor this group’s discussions of broadband, telehealth, 3D technologies, and home health automation. There are some fascinating ideas being tossed around.

If you are already a member of LinkedIn, please do explore the options for connecting with groups of people with your shared interests. It is still a great networking tool and a place to connect with your peers, but with a little effort, it can be customized and used as a tool for other aspects of your professional life and interests. You may even want to create a group yourself. For more information, please contact Terri Ottosen @ tottosen@hshsl.umaryland.edu.

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