Dental Tribune USA

Social networking for dentists – made easy

By Dan Marut, DMD
April 16, 2009

What is a social network? For as long as humans have walked the earth we have been social creatures. We pride ourselves on family and form groups in order to survive. These groups not only allow us to survive but also thrive leading to new ideas and innovations. Well, the Internet, and some other factors, led to the diminishment of local groups and group activities.

People became free to roam the world from their own house whenever they wanted to, but they still yearned for connection. We need it. It has become hotwired into our development as humans. The internet fragmented us. However, human needs will not be denied. Just as the internet diminished human grouping, it is now bringing us together like never before.

Components of online social networking

Profiles - Profiles serve as your identity on the network. In short, they are your online CV. I would encourage you to fill in what you are comfortable with. Social networks are about sharing and your experience will be enhanced when completing your profile.

Friends - “Friends” are the foundation of any social network. Just like in real life, your online friends become part of your social fabric. Online friends are able to keep up to date on your actions on the social network.

Groups - Online groups represent like-minded individuals coming together for collaboration, connections, sharing, and learning about a specific topic. Dentistry has been called a cottage profession because the predominant model of practice is solo practice. Online groups or online study clubs provide a way to share knowledge, meet other dentists with similar interests, access a calendar of events, share files, and upload pictures and videos. For dentists, this means we can now practice solo but have the benefit of knowledge sharing and connectivity to a specific group that is of interest to us.

Online social networks are powerful tools. They have taken the Web from static Web pages and Q&A forums to a dynamic, ever developing connected network of individuals who willingly share knowledge, interests, and professional goals.

Examples of online social networks

LinkedIn - Mostly for the corporate and business-minded crowd, LinkedIn has a mature user type that is interested in business networking.

Facebook - I enjoy using Facebook to keep in contact with my personal friends. However, I find it difficult to sift through all of the non-dental chatter to find what I am looking for professionally.

MySpace - If you’ve used MySpace, perhaps you might think it is geared toward a younger crowd. There are many bells and whistles to choose from.

Professional social networks - Professional social networks are focused on a particular profession and only a particular profession. You won’t find any spam filled teenage chatter on these. Momentum once reserved for large social networks without a focus is now moving into niche social networks about specific interests.

Examples of Professional Social Networks

NewDocs - NewDocs is the professional social network for the dental profession. NewDocs is about dentistry and only about dentistry. You won’t find (or be found by) high school classmates here. You can join professional “groups” or online study clubs on NewDocs. You also have the opportunity to create your own group. Think of it as your own “mini social network”. Share files, use the calendar of events, collaborate, and discuss the topics of your choice. If you have certain information about a particular subject matter, you are able to post a blog. The download section on NewDocs has many useful tools, forms, sample contracts, business plans, etc.

Sermo – Sermo is the professional social network for medicine.

LawLink – Lawlink is for lawyers.

How do I get started in professional social networking?

Getting started in professional social networking is easy, and NewDocs is the premier site. NewDocs was created by a dentist and exclusively about dentistry and the dental profession. Visit www.NewDocs.com, register (it’s free) and choose a profile image.

Once registered, be sure to fill in your profile. Your profile is your online identity and will allow others on the site to connect with you and find common interests.

Once you’ve explored the site, join a group/study club or two or three … Groups/study clubs allow you to connect, collaborate, and share with others over a common subject or cause. If you don’t see a group/study club you are interested in, feel free to create your own.

The tools on NewDocs make it very easy to create and manage your own group or study club. Manage a local study club or society by keeping all of your members up to date on happenings, events, discussions, etc. The best part is you don’t even need to know how to create a Web page to do this!

After you’ve accomplished the above, you’re ready to move to the next level and invite other professional friends and colleagues to join NewDocs. The power of professional social networking lies in the users and the activity of those on the site. The more people you can connect with the more you will get out of NewDocs.

In short:

1. Register on NewDocs.com and choose an “avatar” (profile picture)
2. Fill in your profile.
3. Explore the site by “clicking around.” Be sure to click on other user’s’ avatars.
4. Make ‘Friends.”
5. Join a group/study club or create one yourself.
6. Invite your professional friends and colleagues to join NewDocs. This will grow your network.

Social networking is here to stay and professional social networking is the natural progression of this powerful Web based tool. Take the first step and become part of a network and reap the rewards of professional collaboration on a social network. For those dentists looking to manage a study club or a dental association, the tools on NewDocs make it not only easy but fun for all of its members. Start today and find out why professional social networking is changing our professional world.

Dan Marut, DMD, can be reached at: Dan@newdocs.com, or just find him on NewDocs, he becomes your 1st friend!

 

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