As many of you know, one of my main businesses is in health care finance. I do lots of charge master and charge capture work, as well as many projects throughout the entire revenue cycle. If you’re unsure what some of those terms mean, follow the links to get a taste.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post on my other blog asking people if they ever search their names over the internet. I have more than 8,500 references to myself and my different websites on the internet. This blog and the website it’s associated with has at least 5,000 of those links. Sure, it’s not CNN, but it’s pretty good for a sole proprietor.

This pretty much means I have a fairly nice presence on the internet. Yet, for all the success, I’m not contacted all that often by anyone not in my area. Heck, for that matter I’m not contacted all that often locally either. I’m glad to find work when it comes, but a big part of me knows that I’m not doing close to what I thought I’d be doing by now in times of the type of work and the amount of work. I should be really busy working with all sorts of clients; instead, I’m really busy hacking out a living, like other people who work for themselves, wondering sometimes whether it’s worth the time and energy.

Of course, just because I do a lot of things online doesn’t mean I’m the best at marketing myself. There are some folks who believe my main website doesn’t focus enough on what I do. I’ll admit that, because I do so many things, it could be seen as confusing initially, until someone decided to take a good look at it. However, the flip side of that is that, even with all the links, it’s not like I have hundreds of people visiting my site to begin with. When times are good, I’m averaging 30 visitors a day; when they’re not, I’m averaging around 15 a day. Frankly, those aren’t the best numbers in the world for anyone.

Last week at my consultant’s group meeting, we talked about this issue of branding. The presenter basically said that we all have to find ways of standing apart from the crowd if we want to generate the kind of interest that will continually bring us income. He also said there has to be a balance between how you decide to stand apart and the group you’re trying to market yourself to.

That brings up an issue that I’ve talked to others about, and written in other places, but not here. The health care industry overall is very stodgy and rigid. It’s not an industry that really encourages a lot of self thought among its workers, although they will tell you they do. It’s not industry that’s braced the internet all that much either. It doesn’t like much that it can’t control, and it can’t control the internet. It doesn’t really understand the internet. Sure, some hospitals put up websites, but they’re not really sure what to do with them once it’s up.

It’s a hard industry to market to. Truthfully, as soon as I walk into a room I’m something unique to the group; not a lot of black people in health care outside of housekeeping and the cafeteria. Move that up to management, and based on numbers its close to nonexistent. That’s not a condemnation right now; that’s just the fact. And the point here is more along the lines of being an anomaly, you’d think that, at the very least, people who’ve seen me more than once would at least know my name, or at least know what I did in my industry when they see me in person. Instead, the majority work hard at staying away; sounds strange, but it’s true. If you ever want to feel alone in a room full of people try unintentionally being different.

Back to the stodgy thing. Something my friend Art Zimmer once said is that you can’t be afraid of being too out in front of people, because enough of them will be intrigued enough to want to get to know more about you. That’s not a direct quote, but it’s close enough. I’ve always wondered how I should do that. I’m not the most open guy when it comes to doing something out of my comfort zone. Yet, something tells me that, after 8 years, it might be time to step things up just a little bit more, getting the word out, becoming notorious or famous, and see what that could do to generate more business and interest.

By the way, I’m not alone in looking at health care as a stodgy business. It’s locked into resumes, even from consultants, where no other business would deal with it. It’s more interested in old style thinking, belief in the concept that getting a new computer system means they can reduce staff, when anyone knows that’s just not going to happen. Well, anyone who’s stepped out from behind a desk anyway. There are many old concepts that simply aren’t true anymore. It’s another reason why many in health care are so scared about a government insurance plan. Change the status quo? Even though our industry is in trouble? The nerve!

And, health care isn’t the only stodgy business out there. Real estate is a stodgy business. Banking is a stodgy business. Even insurance is a stodgy business. Just because you see a duck and a gecko in a commercial doesn’t mean the people behind it aren’t very reserved and afraid to think of something new for their industry.

Is your industry stodgy? If so, what do you think would be an acceptable way to open it up? Or do you want to open it up? Inquiring minds want to know.