Valerie is a PhD in Health Services student with a broad background in pharmacy, mental health, research, and higher education. In 2012, she started a consulting business where she provides medication therapy consults to individuals with chronic conditions, especially psychiatric, neurologic and cardiovascular disorders. She shares how she used networking and professional branding strategies to attract clients and grow her consulting business.
Dina Bergren: Valerie, how did you start your consulting business?
Valerie: I had 15 years of clinical practice, teaching, and research experience under my belt as a post-doctoral neuropsychiatric pharmacist when life events caught my attention and demanded a change in direction. For family reasons, I left my tenure-track faculty position, relocated to another state, and spent the next seven years raising my son and caring for my mom. This period of life was a time of reflection on how to navigate my career. I pursued practice innovation and work-life balance through entrepreneurship. I still loved working with students and became an Adjunct Faculty with two pharmacy schools. I also started a limited liability corporation (LLC) for a consulting business where I could help people make informed decisions on medication use and conduct research. As a part of my business, I piloted novel medication management services in community mental health. I also connected with the Texas Pharmacy Association and participated in the State Medication Therapy Management (MTM) pilot; their data was presented to the state legislature and adopted as best practices. To further broaden my knowledge, I decided to pursue a second doctoral degree, a PhD in Health Services from Walden University.
Dina Bergren: What recently successes have you experienced?
Valerie: Although I already had a website for the business, I contacted Walden Career Services for advice on how I could best highlight my strengths and professional accomplishments. Career Services staff helped me reflect on how I wanted to be seen, formulate my professional “brand,” and articulate my career goals. I also gained advice on how to utilize social media to establish new connections. I increased my social media engagement, which resulted in new traffic to my online profiles. The exciting news was that many more concierge patients started contacting me directly; a 12-fold increase in new client requests this year!
Dina Bergren: What top LinkedIn strategies helped you grow your consulting business in the past year?
Valerie: I refined my profile summary section by articulating concise, descriptive words of who I was and what I wanted to achieve professionally, and I enhanced my list of skills. I also added rich media postings such as pictures of my speaker presentations or an advocacy visit with my students to Capitol Hill. LinkedIn also has a self-publishing feature; I used it to publish articles on medication management needs such as in disasters like Hurricane Harvey. I joined LinkedIn Groups related to MTM, reviewed profiles of professionals working in health policy, and engaged in conversations of interest. I identified Think Tanks and other groups dedicated to Health Policy, Health Services and Medication Management issues.
Dina Bergren: What other activities helped you build a professional presence?
Valerie: I made use of other important social media sites, including ResearchGate and Psychology Today, applying the same techniques as I used on LinkedIn. I also revamped and streamlined my Curriculum Vitae (CV) with tips from Walden Career Services. These activities helped me strengthen my professional image.
Dina Bergren: What advice would you have for other Walden students and alumni who are interested in becoming independent consultants?
Valerie: I would definitely advise making an appointment with the Walden Career Services, making the most of social media, and reaching out to build new connections. Walden offers a host of terrific career resources that one can utilize to get started.
Would you like to learn more? Check out these resources from Walden Career Services!
Webinar: Launching a Career in Consulting
Curriculum Vitae Guide
Networking and Branding tab
Webinar: LinkedIn Cafe
Written by Walden Doctoral Student, Valerie Oji
Edited by Associate Director of Career Services, Dina Bergren