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Nine Steps to Becoming a Recognized Healthcare Authority

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Success checkmarkGain personal and professional satisfaction plus boost your marketing plan effectiveness.

We're willing to wager that you are already an expert.

The professionals that we work with daily are all highly educated, experienced and smart. Almost by definition, every one of them is an expert, and they're passionate about some aspect of the work they've trained to do.

But, we also know that few experts seize the opportunity to become a "recognized authority." The easy part is being an expert-the important part is being recognized. From a marketing perspective, you may be missing the advantage of leveraging your expertise (and what you enjoy doing).

Here's how to move up a notch in a way that brings you added personal satisfaction, and growth to your business for the effort.

List what you're truly good at doing. Park your self-modesty (and your ego) in neutral and list several options. Consult your memory, your CV and your most trusted friends to isolate the three or four "core strengths" that are genuine expert areas for you. Translate technical or clinical skills into values that have meaning to the typical patient, and consider what and how you do that "something special" in your organization.

Pick an expertise that supports your organizational branding. A dental practice, for example, that differentiates itself with the unique competitive advantage of "new-you cosmetic dentistry" can extend that message with a recognized authority in "3D smile design." Your practice positioning is an extension of you...and vice versa.

With one clear focal point, here are nine ways to grow from mere expert to recognized authority.

1. Give speeches. Community talks, health fair presentations, civic luncheons and the like are a way to ease into this program. Prepare, rehearse and refine what you have to say. Experienced speakers develop at least one core presentation and adapt it to the audience or occasion.

Consider a "problem" and "solution" format with your expert overlay. Start with a challenging problem in your area of expertise. Talk about your experience and put forward your distinctive and exceptional solution. Another format is "looking to the future" and how your unique perspective of things to come guides how you practice today.

2. Teach a class. This is similar to a speech, but transplanted to an educational environment. It's probably not practical to think in terms of two nights a week for six weeks. But a one-time or once in a while class at the community college, through the hospital or even at your office gives you a forum to present authoritative information to the public. Becoming an adjunct professor at a college and teaching about your profession and experience is further credibility, raises your profile and often leads to invitations to other public opportunities.

3. Write articles. Write a book. You could sit down and write a book, but it's easier to climb that mountain a little bit at a time. Write the outline for a book and create it in slices as individual articles. Being a published author is perceived as an expert's credential.

Neither the article(s) nor the book need to be hundreds of pages in length. Getting your message into print, even as a short and punchy book, helps grow your recognition base. Many first books are self-published and relatively low cost to produce. Once produced, a book is not only a healthcare business promotional tool, but it's also useful when you give a speech or class and can inspire contacts from radio and TV media (who become aware of your expertise).

4. Consider professional journals and events. In addition to the usual clinical topics, many publications for professionals are open to good editorial material that is professional-to-professional, about practice business or even lifestyle topics such as travel and finance.

5. Create once, but use in multiple ways. Items prepared for one media can be used in a second or third media, so leverage your efforts and extend the reach. Let's say you've just written and published an expert article in the newspaper. With little revision, this same content can become an article on your website, recorded as a track on an audio CD or presented as a downloadable podcast. Reprints of the article can be made available in your office, mailed to colleagues or used as handouts at public events.

6. List yourself in directories. Begin with the Yellow Pages (print and online), but reach out to any classified or category-sort directory where your expertise fits. For a list of ideas, look online using variations of search terms that describe your proficiency. This is likely to reveal both Internet and print listings and registries of health information sites, associations, groups and institutions related to what you have to offer.

7. Position yourself as an expert in your branded materials, website and advertising. Don't miss any opportunity to reinforce your self-message in your own brochures, ads, letters or other marketing tools. Read existing materials with a fresh perspective and be sure the message is clear. Revise things if needed to showcase your expertise and how it benefits the patient/reader. For your Website, check that you're using the right keyword, tags and text that help the search engines find your site for online visitors.

8. Maintain and circulate an up-to-date CV. Carefully document each and every occasion that you have been published, quoted, honored or otherwise recognized for your professional expertise. Keep it current and complete, and don't be shy about sharing this information with the media, colleagues, professional societies and in advance of speaking events.

9. Reserve some regular time and set a schedule. Good intentions without action will not produce results. Getting started is often the most difficult step, but the flow of expert materials often grows...a speech inspires a media interview...a series of articles roll-up into fuel for a book...recognition itself helps energize additional recognition.

In our years of working with professionals and practices across the nation, we've seen experts transform themselves into recognized authorities. When it's done right and done well, the personal and professional gains are satisfying-and the added bounce to the healthcare organization marketing plan is richly rewarding.

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