LinkedIn – Your Networking Treasure Chest

Photo by Keri J

Photo by Keri J

I stayed up too late the other night treasure hunting on LinkedIn. I kept saying to myself, “Just one more search, then I’ll stop. I promise.” But I couldn’t. I kept trying new searchers for potential contacts. When the results came up, my eyes would widen and I’d say, “Wow! What a great profile! I want to reach out to that person!” Then I’d craft a personalized message, hoping to get a reply. The next day I was excited to see some replies in my in box. Oh my. I just realized this is sounding like on-line dating! Noooooo.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I will admit to having tried it. But I don’t think it ever kept me up ‘til the wee hours (maybe that was the problem). Rather, I’m referring to the biggest career-networking site for professionals.

With over 330 million members, LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful networking platform. It’s a great tool for researching non-clinical careers, job hunting, and career enhancement. By creating your own profile, you can network with professionals in any career area, join special interest groups, apply for jobs, and research companies. Recruiters, headhunters, and others seeking your expertise and background can also find you.  The basic membership is free, and you can upgrade for additional services and features.

Even though I’m not personally looking for a job, I use LinkedIn to connect with individuals in different non-clinical areas. I also reach out to recruiters who could be useful for my clients, and join certain groups and follow their discussions.

One area I was searching that night was my alumni network. This is akin to treasure hunting where gold has been found before; there is a higher probability you will find someone willing to connect because you have something in common. Similarly, search for others in your own specialty, or people who have a common interest, such as volunteering abroad or public health. That’s not to say you can’t have good luck without specific commonalities. You still have the physician-to-physician connection. A lot of it has to do with your message and playing the numbers game. If you send out enough requests, you WILL hear back. You just have to be persistent.

 One of the messages I received in my inbox that morning was from a physician who went to medical school where I did my residency. I found him by typing in the search box, drug safety and physician and FDA. His profile looked interesting, as he had worked for the past several decades in both pharma and for the FDA. I sent a friendly message saying I was impressed by his successful career path and would welcome the chance to ask him a few questions about how he made his transition. The next morning there was a long email from him telling me about how he found his first drug safety job right out of fellowship and his various jobs in pharma and his current work for the FDA. We exchanged a few more emails and he offered to be of assistance in the future. It is through these kinds of connections that you learn the insider secrets of how transitions are made, what it’s like to work in a certain sector. You build connections that help you down the road.

Through my efforts that night, I also ended up speaking with a pharma recruiter in the Bay area who agreed to let me know about opportunities for physicians in more entry-level positions. And yesterday I had a great conversation with a dermatologist who does drug safety work for a CRO (contract research organization). He told me about his day-to-day responsibilities and how he made his transition.

As I mentioned above, you can also search for jobs on LinkedIn. Going back to that late night, I was curious what I could find in the way of medical writing jobs, as a good number of my clients are pursuing this work. In the Job Search section, I typed Medical Writer Entry Level. Shazam!! A job for an entry-level medical writing position came up. And it happened to be in the very town where one of my clients lives who is seeking this kind of opportunity. I would have fallen off my chair, but I happened to be in bed working from my laptop. Because I’m doing a free month trial of the Job Seeker Premium account, I was able to see additional information that there were 12 applicants for this job to date, 33% with an MD, and 42% with a PhD. I fired off an email to my client in that town and she sent in her application the next day.

Another way you can use LinkedIn is to join some of the special interest groups. Once you are a member, you can follow and participate in the discussions. You might be interested in the American Association for Physician Leaders group, or the Society for Physician Entrepreneurs. There are groups for almost every sector you could think of. Following the discussions is a good way to gauge your interest level in the subject matter. You can also find folks to connect with in these groups.

There is so much more to LinkedIn than I can cover here, but I hope you are feeling excited to get out there and do some treasure hunting.

For LinkedIn Rookies  – If you don’t have one already, start creating your profile. Make sure you include a professional headshot. You will be prompted to fill in most of the information from your CV. Your summary statement is more free- form and basically answers the question of who you are, what you have accomplished and what you are seeking. Once you have your profile complete, start connecting with individuals you want in your network. For a step-by-step guide on creating your profile, click here.

For LinkedIn Veterans – continue building your network. It is good to have at least 100 quality connections, ideally 300 – 500. Explore your alumni network for potential contacts. Consider trying the Premium Job Seeker account ($29.95 per month) for a free one-month trial if you are in job search mode. Are there some groups you would like to join? Set an intention to reach out to 10 – 15 folks in the next week who could be helpful to your career. If there is someone who would be a key contact, you can always offer to pay a consultation fee. Their advice could be invaluable and well worth the $$.

To all of you, good luck treasure hunting on LinkedIn. As you put yourself out there, you will also see how you can be of service to others. What you give and receive through these exchanges is priceless in value.

Additional resources

5 Winning Tips for LinkedIn

LinkedIn for Dummies by Joel Elad 2014

The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success by Wayne Breitbarth 2013

Help Site for LinkedIn

Ready to create a stand-out LinkedIn profile, network without being schmoozie, and find your dream job? Check out my new signature course: LinkedIn for Physicians

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"Heather’s approach was great! She would listen to me and helped me appreciate who I am."

I remember when she said ‘do your resume before our next meeting’, I was about to push back but she gently nudged me along and I’m glad I did exactly what she wanted me to do. We also did interview prep via Zoom and I was offered a great job in UM. She has continued to follow up even after I was offered this job, helping me with pointers about negotiating. I will totally recommend the Doctors Crossing and Heather to anyone feeling stuck like me and looking for a great coach! Thank you Heather!

- Modupe Oladeinde, MD

Family Medicine
Tim O

The coaching I have had with you has been life changing."

You helped me find the courage to seek out leadership positions and become a medical director as well as a physician advisor. I am grateful we crossed paths and am a different person because of it. You have inspired me to "believe" in spite of my inner skeptic. I consider you one of my most important mentors and am proud to also call you a friend. This says a lot given the apprehension I felt when I took a chance with our first coaching session. Even though I have already made a successful transition, I still value your ongoing mentorship and can enthusiastically attest that the value of your services is tremendous!

- Tim Owolabi, MD

Family Medicine
Lynette Charity

“I was at a crossroads in my medical career. I asked myself, "Do I stay or do I go?" 

I met Heather at the SEAK conference. She and I revisited this question.  Did I want to quit being medicine completely? She helped me to identify my needs, wants, and my vision for my FUTURE, not just in medicine, but in life!!!

She was able to listen to my "ramblings" about becoming a stand-up comic, lounge singer and voice-over actor and translate them into action steps.  I chose to become a composite of all of these. Now I am a more confident, healthier, happier person. I credit this in its entirety to the tutelage I have received and continue to receive from Heather.  She cares. She listens. She was there for ME.  She will be there for YOU!

- Lynette Charity, MD

Gail Miller

“I am forever grateful to Heather for helping me to recognize, I am more than just my M.D." 

Heather helped me understand that I am more than just a doctor and that my experiences in clinical medicine are valuable in so many arenas.  As a result I realized that there are other ways to use my background, still be able to help people and continue to challenge myself and grow.  To that end I discovered coaching - specifically health coaching.  I am on my journey becoming a health coach and truly loving it!

- Gail Miller, MD

OB/Gyn physician

“Thank you, Heather, for helping me transform my career, my faith and my life."

What started out as an initial thirty-minute consultation call turned into an amazing four-year journey that transformed my life, personally, spiritually and professionally. 

Heather helped me to discover my doing so, I discovered I still had a calling for medicine but it now came from a place of truth... wife and I are opening our first concierge medicine clinic in a community we love. I’m actually excited to have the opportunity to practice medicine the way I believe it’s meant to be, with a focus on the doctor-patient relationship and an emphasis on faith. I know if I had not reached out to Dr. Fork, my life would not be where it is at today.

- Steve Lapke, MD

Papillion, NE
Sue Zimmermann

“Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart."

She is incredibly knowledgeable about the range of careers available to physicians and provided me with advice and connections which I would not have found on my own.  From the start she encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try different things.  I was laid off unexpectedly in early 2017, and Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart and making decisions based on trust, not fear.  Now I am enjoying working part-time in a clinical setting in addition to teaching and writing.

- Sue Zimmermann, MD

Orthopedic Surgeon
Devki Patel

After months of struggling to find a non-clinical career that matched my values and passion, I stumbled upon Heather's website which truly changed my life."

Heather's insightful and personalized approach to career coaching made me think outside the box since she took the time to evaluate my personality, values, interests, and preferred lifestyle.

Through her encouragement, practical advice, and professional connections, I was able to find a non-clinical position at a state Medicaid agency that aligned with my passion for population health and serving low-income communities. In addition to her coaching sessions, Heather has built a community of like-minded physicians through her blog, and I feel honored to recommend her to friends and colleagues who seek to make positive changes in their professional and personal lives.

- Devki Patel, MD

Jay Macregor

Working with Heather ultimately helped me leave my job in corporate healthcare and find a path that was much more fulfilling."

My career was going reasonably well but I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling I could do better; or at least find a better long-term career fit.  

I was able to find a surgery job that better aligned with my goals and professional interests.  Additionally, Heather helped me start a consulting business which has allowed me to pursue a true passion: helping medical students, residents, and attendings surgeons navigate the challenges of high-stakes standardized exams.    

If you are reading this as a “Type A” surgeon who doesn’t think coaching is for you, I would encourage you to give Heather a shot.  I’m very glad I did!

- Jay MacGregor, MD

Colorectal Surgeon

“I gained the confidence in myself to develop an action plan that blended the best parts of my experiences and interests into a cohesive career." 

Through our work, I learned to trust myself to make good decisions for my own future – something I hadn’t realized I was struggling with because as an emergency physician, I make life-changing decisions with patients every day. 

By feeding my creativity and interests in other realms of my professional life, I’ve found renewed compassion for my patients and myself, making every shift an opportunity to actually care for people. Thank you Heather. I really couldn’t have made these changes without your help!

- Liz McMurtry, DO

Emergency Medicine Physician

The simple truth is - Heather Fork totally helped me change my life."

I never would have had the courage to make the changes I’ve made without her unwavering support, wealth of knowledge and commitment. 

When I first started working with Heather, I was downtrodden...I’d been practicing medicine for 20+ years and yet had never quite found my place.  During the first year I worked with Heather, I left the practice I’d been working at, and recreated an entirely new professional purpose.

I’m now an executive and leadership coach, a university professor, and a Brené Brown Daring Way facilitator, and I have never looked back.  I love what I am doing more than at any other time in my professional life and I credit Heather with seeing in me what I was never able to see in myself, until now.

Don’t hesitate, don’t doubt yourself, schedule your time with Heather as soon as possible- she can help you reconnect to your purpose and reinvent your life.

- Amie Langbein, DO

Family Physician
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"After 30 years in academic medicine, I wanted a career change but had no idea where to start. Medicine was all I knew."

I signed up for coaching with Heather and it transformed my life. She helped me get clear on what I wanted my life to look like. We reviewed my skills, values, and strengths. She instilled hope in me that change IS possible after 50 years! 

The outcome is that I have created a life I love! I practice endocrinology part-time and own a life coaching business! Coaching with Heather is one of the best investments I have made in my life. 

- Karen Barnard, MBBCh, MPH

Endocrinologist and Life Coach

"Heather was my source of hope during a time when I felt stuck and confused. She gave me the permission and confidence to reach higher than I believed I could."

After graduating from residency and starting a family, I lost sight of why I became a physician. I struggled to convince myself to stay in a career that was clearly the wrong fit for me and my family. My anxiety about work was at an all-time high when I reached out to Heather. She provided something that my mentors, friends, and family could not – rather than just offering career advice, she changed the way I think about my life so that I could understand how my career would fit into it. I realized I wasn’t ready to give up on medicine and eventually found a job in academic medicine. I finally feel that excitement for medicine that I used to feel when I was in training. More importantly, I feel like I can be the role model to my young daughter who may one day also face similar challenges between career and family. Thank you, Heather, for all your kindness, support, and skillful coaching! The experience was life-changing!

- Yuri Shindo, MD

Internal Medicine Physician
Camille Gardner-Beasley

"As a Physician, your personal and even professional needs are often overlooked. I learned how to prioritize my career goals by working with Dr. Heather Fork."

She taught me how to put into practice what I knew in theory, that taking care of myself was a priority. I learned to give myself permission to make the career choices that would give me the work-life balance I desperately craved and needed. The process of confronting fears and insecurities was a bit scary, but well worth it in the end. I am now a happier version of myself with a non-clinical job that I truly enjoy!

- Camille Gardner-Beasley, MD

Family Medicine
Anna testimonial

"After 10 years in outpatient family medicine I felt stuck and knew I needed a change but I didn’t know where to begin. Thankfully I found Heather and she guided me every step of the way."

She helped me carefully assess my interests, strengths and passions while also providing me with constructive changes to implement in my job search and resume. With Heather’s help, I just landed a fully remote UM position and I am also exploring coaching as well. Now I feel like the possibilities are endless and I’m excited for this next chapter in the nonclinical world! Thank you Heather for changing my life for the better.

- Ana Jacobellis, DO


"I'm truly thankful to have had the opportunity to be coached by Heather, she is not only a resourceful mentor but a wise and supportive friend. I'm honored to recommend Heather to all my friends and colleagues."

I had been a practicing Internist for 20 years when I reached a point when I needed to make a serious change in my career path. While I enjoyed seeing patients, I was not satisfied with my life-work balance. My job was taking me away from my family and left me little time and energy to do other things that are important and meaningful to me. I came across Dr. Fork's podcast; The Doctor's Crossing Carpe Diem Podcast, it is such an informative and enjoyable podcast for any physician who wants to do more with their career and life in general. Then I had the pleasure to get career coaching from Heather, it was truly an amazing experience. Heather has broad knowledge of all the different career paths that are available for physicians, she is so insightful and very easy to talk to. She helped me clarify my goals, examine my own mindset and definition of success. Together we developed a clear plan and actionable steps to reach these goals. I eventually made a career transition to a remote non-clinical position that allows me to do meaningful work which aligns with my personal and professional goals and priorities.

- Abbey Awad, MD

Internal Medicine