How radiologists can craft their own personal brand.
It's no secret that many radiologists spend plenty of time in a dark reading room. Even though that's changign thanks to initiatives like Imaging 3.0®, imagers work hard to define their reputations in the workplace.
As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once said, "Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room."
For those of you separated from colleagues, administrators, and patients by the reading room walls, crafting a brand is of the utmost importance.
As Tom Peters wrote in Fast Company, "We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc." So how can you take control of your own personal brand? Where should you start and what should your end goal be? These questions and tips will help you add Radiologist Inc. to your brand portfolio. (For more on branding, check out the Chair of the BOC column.)
What Do You Want to Communicate?
The quote above from Bezos is a personal favorite of J. Mark Carr, MBA, President of Carr Consulting Group and Adjunct Lecturer at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass. “I think brand is important to anybody in today’s modern workforce, particularly to professionals who rely on their reputations to build a good standing in the community and with their colleagues,” Carr, who has also served on the faculty for the Radiology Leadership Institute® (RLI) Summit, says. “To me, personal branding is about really taking control of one’s own image — just like a product or company would to achieve some professional or personal goal.”
Carr, whose recent RLI session was titled, “You Are Your Brand: Personal Branding to Drive Growth,” says it’s first and foremost important to figure out what you want to communicate. This is an essential step before moving forward with building the brand itself. “People start thinking about tools to communicate their brand before they really have one,” he says. Instead, start with an honest assessment of who you are and what you want to be. Ask: What are my values? What makes me unique? What skills and competencies do I have? See the sidebar, “What’s the Story?” for a few more ideas.
In a Harvard Business Review article, “Reinventing Your Personal Brand,” Dorie Clark calls this process defining your destination. Think about where you want to be and what you want to be known for — even if it differs from how you’re currently perceived. Defining your destination will help you plot out how to get there.
For Amy L. Kotsenas, MD, neuroradiologist and associate professor of radiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., her personal brand evolved due to an outspoken support for more radiologist-patient interaction, which even led her to win several awards, such as the 2016 Women in Neuroscience Leadership Award from the American Society of Neuroradiology. “I think it’s important to have a brand that extends beyond the walls of your organization,” Kotsenas says.
Kotsenas’ destination may have included this career success, as well as being known for her special passion. However, you might also seek to be valued for a specific clinical research interest, an enthusiasm for mentorship and teaching, your attitude and professionalism, or even all of the above. Your destination might include wanting to become a leader within your hospital or the radiology societies or winning a particular award or fellowship or position. Whatever it is, being specific is infinitely helpful: “Having a special interest can definitely help more opportunities come your way, whether it’s a new position, clinical endeavor, or research project,” says Kotsenas.
How Can You Communicate It?
The next step is figuring out how to communicate and portray your brand. The first necessity, according to Carr, is to develop a story and then figure out how to disseminate it. Here are a few suggested tools and methods you might try.
Elevator Pitch: Carr warns that while the elevator pitch should only be a simple and concise few sentences about you, “It actually makes it actually harder to create because you really have to have a understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish and how you deliver it.”
Network/Attend Meetings: Once you have an elevator pitch, you want to use it somewhere other than, well, the elevator. Put yourself out there by attending a new meeting next year. Or even better, join a hospital committee in an area of interest. When colleagues ask who you are, you’ll be ready.
Personal Website: Having a personal website with your biography and interests, even if simple, can help shape your brand. One group performed a study looking at radiologists’ presence on the internet, and found that, of all physicians listed as radiologists in the U.S., only one didn’t have a presence when you searched on Google, says Kotsenas. The bottom line is that referring physicians and patients will Google you. It’s better to shape the story told about you than let it be shaped by what others write on review sites like HealthGrades.com or Vitals.com.
Social Media Presence: Kotsenas also found social media to be helpful in shaping how others view her; in fact, it was on Twitter that she first spoke up about radiologist-patient interaction, and began to make a name for herself, which led to many accolades and networking with other radiologists with similar values. Your bio on Twitter, as well as engaging with others and joining chats like the #JACR Tweet Chat or #HCSM (health care and social media), can help focus your identity and the way others perceive you. One piece of advice for social media? “You want to be professional at all times, and in all situations, whether its live in person or virtually,” says Kotsenas.
The most important thing? Think about your brand while you can. Define it and take actionable steps to reach your goals. “So often, we let our brand evolve unintentionally without thinking carefully about how we’re trying to communicate with our target audience,” says Carr.
By Alyssa Martino, freelance writer for the Bulletin