A trainee accountant I know had just heard that I’d been speaking about Linkedin at an accountancy firm’s away day. He was amazed that a firm would need this as, in his words, “Linkedin is just like Facebook isn’t it?”
This is a common misconception, fuelled in part by surveys and articles that reference Linkedin simply as just another social networking site. This causes many older people to dismiss Linkedin as they have no interest in social networking. And many younger people then pay it little attention as they are already active on Facebook. “Why bother doing much on a copycat site?”
My view is quite simple. The two sites are very different.
For professionals, like accountants, I suggest viewing Facebook as being principally for fun, friends and family.
Linkedin however is where you can build, manage and utilise your business connections. It’s more of a professional business networking site rather than somewhere to share your social activities and non-business views.
Crucially, as I explained to my young friend, his career moves are more likely to benefit from his Linkedin activity than from his use of facebook. The latter has more potential to have an adverse impact if postings and comments are not carefully considered.
Linkedin can also be used as a powerful career enhancer and I have spoken about this before. More and more recruitment decisions are influenced by Linkedin profiles. Also relevant to your career success will be your activity and the connections you build up on Linkedin.
The other key distinction between facebook and Linkedin is that the latter is a powerful lead generation tool that can be used by accountants – of all ages. And this tends to be the focus of the talks I present on the subject both in-house and at conferences. Hence my conclusion that Linkedin is VERY different to Facebook and a far more valuable and important tool for most accountants.