How to approach social networking

It is amazing what some people will post on a public forum via the Internet. Celebrities have catfights and mental breakdowns on Twitter ...

by Lory Laughter, RDH, BS
momylaugh@aol.com

It is amazing what some people will post on a public forum via the Internet. Celebrities have catfights and mental breakdowns on Twitter, and professionals discuss their work-related issues on Facebook, MySpace, or other social media sites. Among all the drama and whining are a few very skilled dental professionals using web-based social media to promote their career, inspire others, and share vital health information. One of the best at using social media in a professional manner is Anastasia Turchetta, RDH.

I've known Anastasia on a personal and professional level for many years, and started following her Hump Day Happenings a year ago. Every Wednesday I can click on Anastasia's page to hear a video that relates dentistry to the season, holiday, or a fun event. These weekly offerings make me laugh, ponder, and every now and then disagree, but it is always a valuable experience.

While Anastasia's content is educational and vital, her ability to link web sources to reach the most people is what impresses me most. Her website home page at www.anastasiardh.com offers links to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube where you can read or listen to Hump Day Happenings and access other hot topics in dentistry. Anastasia is very skilled at keeping her sites relevant and professional even when the occasional personal subject pops up, when she even makes a complaint about coffin-sized carry-on luggage timely and appropriate.

Rarely a day goes by that I don't read something on a social media page submitted by Ms. Turchetta, but I prefer to view her Wednesday offering on YouTube. Patients will enjoy the videos as much as dental professionals since the tidbits are presented in an easy-to-understand format that is not condescending or childish. You can subscribe to her videos by visiting www.youtube.com and searching for Hump Day Happenings.

Balancing 'social' with business

It is difficult to achieve a balance when using social media for career or business promotion. By their names, it is evident these sites are meant to be social in nature, but professional attitude suggests that sharing life's drama or negativity can be detrimental to image. Some address this conundrum by creating a personal page and a business page that are not linked, a method I tried but found too confusing since many of my business contacts are personal friends. Others simply choose not to share personal information over the web.

There are social business sites developed specifically for professional activity that work well for those who choose to avoid the popular offerings of social media. LinkedIn is extremely valuable for posting career information, a resume, and testimonials about your work. Businesses that are hiring are asking more often for LinkedIn addresses or similar sites. If you are seeking to use digital media strictly for professional contacts, www.linkedin.com or similar sites are your answer.

Another source for socializing online is community sites or email loops. These sites are often managed by companies or individuals for the purpose of sharing information and opinions. In dentistry, there is no shortage of bulletin boards offering everything from alternative dentistry to rants over insurance billing. I have spent more hours than I care to admit reading, learning, questioning, and chuckling over dental blogs and social site postings. I strongly suggest browsing all such offerings, but being very picky about where you subscribe or post.

Socializing and career development are deeply entangled thanks to our ever-present access to online media. Our ability to find knowledge and research is easier than our parents could have ever imagined. As you search for your balance in online socializing and career progression, always remember – not everything within your reach is worth grasping.

Lory Laughter, RDH, BS, practices clinically in Napa, Calif. She is owner of Dental IQ, a business responsible for the Annual Napa Dental Experience. Lory combines her love for travel with speaking nationally on a variety of topics.

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