We all know that:
• research translation is hard;
• it is difficult to find and maintain collaborative research partners (no matter where they are from);
• grants are difficult to come by; and
• industry partners seem disinterested in our work.
However, one of the ways to overcome some of these problems is to have an online presence. A presence that makes us accessible. A presence that attracts rather than one that repels. A presence that encourages our ideal partners to propose or engage with our ideal projects.
Researchers and universities as well as research institutes and centres have been online for years. It is well established that twitter has a large number of academic users. There is also some research to suggest tweets and tweetations are positively correlated with future citations.
However, most of these activities tend to target the expert. Content has tended to be an abridged version of the peer reviewed research, rather than a summary that could be understood by (almost) any audience. Furthermore, although researchers have taken strongly to social media such as twitter, Facebook and Instagram, they are less certain about LinkedIn. Yet, this is the one tool designed and developed for business-to-business networking and therefore the best social media tool for the translation of research outcomes into everyday use.
Unlike other social media, LinkedIn has remained exclusively for business. There are few personal or life posts. Whereas twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and almost all others have become a mixture of personal as well as business posts and profiles. This means, LinkedIn is uniquely positioned to facilitate explicit and meaningful interactions purely for the purpose of a business transaction.
So how can researchers make use of this? How can researchers make their LinkedIn profile translation ready?
When working with industry – or trying to work with industry – I think there are three things researchers should focus on. Each item has an associated LinkedIn activity.
1. Positioning – this is how you, as a researcher, present to the outside world. It’s your combined online and media presence. This includes university websites, media articles, peer reviewed research, and social media. For LinkedIn, this is all about your profile. How you describe yourself and the work you have done. In a recent webinar I ran with Jane Anderson (LinkedIn for Research Translation) we found at least half of the respondents had an account that might be described as a resume. That means they are missing as much as 90% of the opportunities available via LinkedIn. Our suggestion – create a summary that uses words industry might use to find you. What’s the generic word, words or phrase that might describe your expertise? Are they in your summary? If not, make sure they are.
2. Partners – these are the organisations (and therefore the people) you want to work with. You should be able to describe the organisation type and also the specific roles or people that you would interact with. Our suggestion – describe them in your summary “in the past I have worked with …”, or “my work can be used to better understand …” , or “I would like to work with R & D managers, in the field of …” It’s important to be specific. Secondly, LinkedIn is a search engine – so use it. Based on your ideal partner, use the search function to find them; connect with them; introduce yourself like you would if you met them face-to-face.
3. Projects – what is it that you want to do with industry? License some existing work? Collaborate for a new cure, treatment or intervention? Describe (note down) the project. It should be specific. Our suggestion – use that description in your profile summary. In addition, write about these ideal projects. Use the LinkedIn long post format to write your own pieces. Use the like and share functions to highlight work you like, would like to do or would like to be part of.
On 3 August, Jane Anderson and I will be hosting a Masterclass on LinkedIn for Research Translation in Melbourne. You can register via EventBrite or send us an email to find out more.