By Jason Bramwell

As Steve Marshall, director of patient financial services at Margaret R. Pardee Memorial Hospital, can attest, using social media sites like LinkedIn can provide opportunities for career advancement and for maintaining relationships with other finance leaders and colleagues.

If it were not for LinkedIn, Steve Marshall may have never known about the job he currently holds as director of patient financial services at Margaret R. Pardee Memorial Hospital, Hendersonville, N.C.

This is a sample article from HFMA Forums, which are online, job-specific discussion communities for healthcare finance leaders.

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In spring 2011, while working as director of patient financial services and physician billing at Methodist Medical Center of Illinois in Peoria, Marshall was contacted by a recruiter who saw his LinkedIn profile, which includes several career accomplishments, such as:

  • Led significant reductions in accounts receivable for hospital and physician services
  • Led revenue capture projects that resulted in eight-figure enhancement to emergency department revenue
  • Participated in managed care and compliance committees, resulting in improved compliance and contractual performance, which impacted the bottom line

"I'm here because a recruiter identified me through LinkedIn as a potential candidate for this organization," says Marshall. "By listing accomplishments in your LinkedIn profile, it makes it easier for recruiters to look and say, 'This is the candidate who we need.'"

Whether it's Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or even the HFMA Forums listserv, healthcare finance leaders can use social media in a variety of ways to advance their careers.

Creating an Eye-Catching Profile

The three main social media sites-Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter-are valuable for different reasons, and healthcare finance leaders should create online profiles for each platform, recommends Heather Huhman, president, Come Recommended, LLC, a Derwood, Md.-based content agency specializing in careers, recruiting, and human resources.

"LinkedIn is great for keeping in touch with former supervisors, colleagues, and professional acquaintances, whereas Facebook is a better place for connecting with your personal network of friends and family," she says. "Twitter is a great tool for connecting with people who you already know and people who you have never met, such as other thought leaders or people you admire."

By including the following three elements, Huhman says healthcare finance leaders can elevate their social media profiles from "good" to "great."

Profile photo. The user's photo is often the first thing people see when they access an online profile, she says. "It should be a professional headshot; not a group picture or something that could be deemed inappropriate by other healthcare finance professionals," adds Huhman. "On sites like Twitter, profiles without photos are often thought of as spam."

Professional headline. In a LinkedIn profile, the text under the user's name is called a professional headline. It defaults to the person's most current job title, but can easily be changed and made more eye-catching, says Huhman. She recommends including skills that set you apart from other healthcare finance leaders or notable achievements that define you.

"For example, if you've written a book about healthcare finance, include 'notable author' or 'healthcare finance author' in your headline," says Huhman.

Career accomplishments. Huhman says it is important to detail career accomplishments in your profile along with your job history. "What did you do to add value to the hospital or health system? Use dollar amounts and figures when possible," she says.

Shaping Your Personal Brand

Huhman says social media is all about shaping your personal brand. "Do you want to be a go-to source for healthcare finance information? Think about what you want to be known for to determine how to best go about accomplishing your goals," she says.

Huhman shares the following advice on how healthcare finance leaders can build and create relationships with other key finance professionals through social media.

Share valuable content. "It's best to share content, like links to valuable and interesting articles or blogs, on a daily basis," she says. "By sharing content that is interesting and thought-provoking, you can often spark a conversation with your connections and gain new connections based on what you're sharing."

Engage with your networks. "Successful networking is all about building a two-way, mutually beneficial relationship," she says. "Regularly engaging with your connections-such as commenting on status updates, sharing content with them, and 'liking' the content they post-is important for building relationships and strengthening existing ones."

Show your passion as a thought leader. "Healthcare finance leaders are passionate about their industry. Make that apparent by positioning yourself as a thought leader," she says. "Create a blog if you're interested in writing about topics related to healthcare finance. Provide insight on current events, or share advice on breaking into the industry. Passion is something that is apparent to others and will make you admirable as a thought leader."

Staying in Touch with Peers

Although he doesn't often initiate discussions on LinkedIn, Marshall says he checks the networking site daily to read articles his connections have posted and to see what his colleagues are up to. "LinkedIn has been helpful because I can build and maintain networks in the different regions I've worked in," he says. "I'll send short messages through LinkedIn to folks I used to work with just to see how they're doing."

Marshall is also an active contributor to HFMA's Forums listserv, which uses email and specialized service software to enable communication exclusively among Forums members. (Only Forum subscribers can access the listserv. Learn more about HFMA Forums—and subscribe.)

"The listserv is a great resource of people in the profession. You can use it as a sounding board to validate an initiative that you're trying to move forward," he says. "It's a vast improvement from the days when you had to call your peers one by one to do the same thing."

Jason Bramwell is former associate editor, newsletters & Forums, HFMA.

Interviewed for this article:

Heather Huhman is a career expert and president, Come Recommended, LLC, Derwood, Md. (

Steve Marshall is director of patient financial services, Margaret R. Pardee Memorial Hospital, Hendersonville, N.C., and a member of HFMA's North Carolina Chapter (


Publication Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012