A Highland GP on life the universe and anything…

Dear Sis,

An open letter to my sister Katie Malcolm cajoaling her to make use of social media .

I’m really chuffed you are embarking on a career as an independent Speech and Language Therapist after over 20 years in the NHS. When we spoke on the phone I suggested using social media to help in setting yourself up. I know this is probably not your cup-of-tea but here are a few thoughts about what I meant.

I am sure you have an idea about what you want to achieve, here are a few guesses about what I thought you would want: –

  1. Lots of clients
  2. For colleague to be able to easily get in touch
  3. To be connected to all the latest developments in SLT, locally and nationally
  4. To minimise the outgoings and set up costs
  5. For your work to be able to quickly respond to changes and opportunities
  6. To be part of the SLT community, hopefully an influential part.

Life was easy in the NHS, there was certainly no shortage of patients, quite the reverse! People had no difficulty finding your department and knew what they could expect, but still who you knew still made a difference. Starting independently out is going to be somewhat harder; what service are you offering, where do they contact you and how do you let people know you are there? The internet is a big place and websites are easily lost. Search engines are very picky over what sites they will offer, even with the tightest search criteria. A few years ago Google only had 17% of sites on its databse.

But things are changing and central to all of this is the ability to use your computer or phone to become connected to fascinating and helpful people. Websites used to be expensive to build and you needed to be pretty “techy” to run them. Not so with Blogging, I started to blog in May 2011 and in 9 months I have had over 800 views. It cost me nothing but has been invaluable as a place to post articles I want to share. It is pretty easy to manage, I can upload pictures and PowerPoint presentations and I appreciate the comments people leave. What’s more the main Blogging sites are all on the main search engines database.

Someone said having a Blog without a twitter account is like having a restaurant without a sign outside. So next you need Twitter. I’ve blogged on that already . Just today a reply I sent to the Chair of my college, @Clarercgp led to a discussion about the ever increasing devolution of the NHS that I could follow as I walked up Ben Wyvis. Your College seems pretty active too; @RCSLT has 1,669 followers and follows 402 other. That sounds like a lot of tweeting SLTs! Following some of them will keep you bang up to date with SLT news and also be an active part of the SLT scene. The more connected you are the better the chance of attracting clients. They are actively using hashtags such as #stutter and #aphasia and #dysphagia to link topics together.

Then there is LinkedIn, the site that helps you stay connected professionally.  I’ve only just got started with this but it seems to have its uses. Only last week I used it to canvass help finding a 1912 costume for a talk I’m giving next month. Emails to one or two people hadn’t been successful but a message to a selection of my contacts on LinkedIn put resulted in offers of help from Eden Court Theatre, Florians Theatre and Inverness Opera Company. So now I’m sorted with advice from people who know and they seemed to have been delighted to help. There is something about these ways of communication that, contrary to expectation brings out the very best in people in their willingness to help. Although I am only linked to 47 that still means 2,200 2nd degree contacts and 250,000 3rd degree contacts.

So: –

  1. Get on LinkedIn and start using your contacts to kick start KM Therapy Ltd.
  2. Write a blog with what you offer; courses and services etc.
  3. Use your blog to post general interest SLT stories too, the more traffic the more people will be aware of what you are doing and the greater the chance of Google directing others to you
  4. Get active with the SLT community of Twitter. Let them know about your blog, search out others with a common interest
  5. Be active linkng to others blogs and tweets

Howard Rheingold has become convinced that understanding how networks work is an essential 21st century literacy. I think he is right, but I would love to know what you think?


Your wee  bro’


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