I recently presented a session at Digita’s annual conference: “Should accountants explore or ignore twitter and other social media?”

As so often with my talks some of  the content was drawn from posts on his blog – and especially, on this occasion, the items flagged on the twitter page. I also went into more detail about LinkedIn than I have done before.

LinkedIn is probably the most widely used professional and business focused online networking website. I’m always amused when commentators lump it in with facebook and twitter and describe them all as ‘social’ networks.  I think this confuses people who are unfamiliar with them and assume that they are therefore very similar.  A more accurate collective noun is ‘online networks’.  (By the way, it can help to be think of the word ‘social’ as a guide to the form of interaction required on such networks. You will always be more successful if your approach is social rather then ANTI-social)

Back to LinkedIn, you can use it find people and to be found by other users including:

  • Old colleagues, business contacts, suppliers
  • Prospective clients, introducers, influencers

Recruiters use it too and maybe looking for someone like you. Equally you may be able to source a new senior recruit through your LinkedIn contacts. You could also find out more about newer clients and about key contacts at target clients before you approach them. Maybe someone you know, already knows them and could effect an introduction?  The facility to do this in a professional way is is one of LinkedIn’s key distinguishing factors.

In August 2009 I searched LinkedIn to find out how many accountants in GB had registered on the network. The answer was just over 26,000. That figure is now closer to 38,000 and is growing daily.

I would stress that those figures include management accountants and chief accountants in industry and commerce – it’s not just accountants in practice!

LinkedIn seems to be used mostly by recruiters and business people who are not active on the more social online networking sites such as ecademy, facebook and twitter. To my mind that’s good as I don’t need more places to network with the same people but new places to network with new people.

LInkedIn has the potential to be a more intimate way of networking than simply exchanging business cards with a stranger when attending networking event, conferences or exhibitions.  I recently attended a social party, met an interim FD and remembered his name. The next day I looked him up on Linkedin and connected with him. Such a facility allows us to maintain a wider network of contacts that has ever been possible in the past.

In a previous post:  If you’re not on Facebook you need to be on LinkedIn I set out, in more detail, some of the reasons for registering an account on LinkedIn.  This is the minimum I would encourage you to do. Most of the real benefits of being registered on LinkedIn require you to have more than a simple profile, but it is at least a start!

Please share your own views and experiences of LinkedIn below.

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