Led by Julie Silver, MD, Harvard Medical School offers a 3-day course on Writing, Publishing, and Social Media for Healthcare Professionals each spring in Boston. The course offers insights on maximizing communication, building a personal platform, improving your writing, the process of publishing, and opportunities to connect with other healthcare professionals as well as editors and literary agents.

I had such a great experience that I am compelled to share my top take-home messages.


1.     Our voice is our own and that is powerful.

We’re all passionate about something – or maybe a few somethings. Too often, we are afraid to contribute our voice to the collective because it isn’t exactly the same pitch. The beauty of our individuality is that we each have the ability to connect with a different target audience on a different level. Finding your authentic voice and matching it to your passion elevates your work to a greater meaning, broadens your reach, and ultimately leads to more satisfaction.


2.     Sponsorship > Mentorship

Navigating the professional world can be tricky. The idea of mentorship - having a pillar of support and guidance - isn’t a new idea. We can all use a mentor, to help guide us to the locked doors that might open to our next opportunity. But a sponsor is someone who has the golden key in their pocket that will open those doors, and they’re willing to let you use it. This is invaluable in the professional world. Find a sponsor, be a sponsor, pass on your power.


3.     Your social media is your calling card.

As social media evolves, so too are the ways that we make first impressions. Often, we are known by our tweets, articles, or Instagram photos before an in-person conversation even occurs. I often find myself introducing myself as “Jess, @jkwillettmd” and others do the same. We live in an age where tattoos can be removed, but anything you put on the internet is immortalized. Think before you post. People should be able to get a general idea of who you are and what you stand for through your social media – it’s important to stay true to your mission.


4.     Networking doesn’t have to be painful – we’re all human.

Even if you’re an introvert, it’s possible to network. Not only is it possible, but it’s crucial. If you don’t try, you’ll miss connections and opportunities. You can use social media to your advantage. According to Rusty Shelton, twitter is the world’s biggest cocktail party. Feeling shy? Make your introduction over twitter and follow up in person. Or have a friend or colleague introduce you. However you do it, just do it. Sometimes the most important step is the first one.


5.     You are your biggest limitation.

Julie Silver, MD talked to us about how our perception can limit both our goals and expectations. “Thinking outside the box” can limit us because it assumes that we are confined to a box to start with. If we simply expand the walls and explore all the nooks and crannies inside that space, we open ourselves up to new, uncharted creativity.


6.     Rejection is just another pebble on the path.

If you’re afraid of getting rejected, you’ll always be afraid. When pitching a book idea or project, it’s inevitable that there will be some rejection. The process is similar to dating. Sometimes you have to pitch to a few frogs before you find your publishing prince. Have patience. The wait for the perfect fit is worth it, and will make the process more painless in the end.


7.     “Sometimes you just have to put on your lipstick and act like you’re psyched.”

We all have to do things that we don’t want to do. Not only is this life, but it’s part of the process as well. If you only write when you feel like writing, it will take you much longer to get to your end goal. The periods of discomfort lend themselves to either growth or progress. Neither of those is unfavorable. Set aside specific time to work toward accomplishing your goals and hold yourself accountable, even if it takes a little extra ‘fake it til you make it’ attitude.


8.     Media mindset trumps marketing.

When considering your platform and personal brand, it’s important to think about your target audience. Marketing may pull your audience in, but it is thinking like the media that will keep them returning. Engagement and entertainment are two key features of the media to utilize your branding strategy.


9.     Content may be king but connection is queen.

It’s important to create content that is meaningful but it’s also just as important to create connections that will keep your audience engaged and wanting to return. The power of human connection is invaluable.


10.  Every time you remind someone else of their value, you increase your own value as well.

There is immense value in collaboration rather than competition. Make a habit of amplifying other unique voices that complement your own. There’s room for us all at the top!


If these messages sound like they align with your personal mission, consider attending this course next year in June. For more information on this year’s course, visit the website: https://wps.hmscme.com/course-overview and keep an eye out for next year’s registration. See you there!