My recent blog ‘Finding the Dream Job with Social Media’ got me thinking more about business networking and its place within the broad sphere of social media. Is business networking different to social networking? Should we keep the two separate? Are business networks a credible tool for employers and prospective employees alike?
In an article from SEOmoz a selection of social and business networking sites are described with regard to their use as marketing tools. I will continue with Linkedin as an example; SEOmoz explain that this site is beneficial for gaining brand exposure for your business as it receives heavy traffic from millions (7 to be exact) of credible professionals. In this brief and laudatory summary SEOmoz do not question Linkedin’s status as a social network.
Writers and creators of Mashable also rate Linkedin as an excellent tool for promoting yourself in the business world and for creating a personal brand. They advise readers to be ruthless in creating the best Linkedin profile possible and in spending time on gaining your profile as much exposure as you can. This ‘how to’ guide leaves readers with the impression that a Linkedin profile could be powerful enough to quickly project users with the right approach up the corporate ladder. Mashable emphasises the importance of keeping your Linkedin profile extremely professional and leaving the status updates about your antics on the weekend to other social networks.
So there does seem to be a line between social networking and business networking. It is not all positive feedback however; Tom Davenport argues Linkedin is not a social network as it lacks reciprocity, the basic element of any successful social networking site. Not everyone is as extreme as Tom Davenport but most are similar in the way they differentiate between the two forms of networking. In my opinion this attitude is generally not a negative one, as we can see in the first two examples. If business networks and social networks are kept separate, which Linkedin seems to have pioneered, can these business networking sites become credible and beneficial as networking tools for professionals due to the very fact that they aren’t social networking? I think this is a valid theory, however due to the very nature of Web 2.0 as user driven I have to question Linkedin’s (and other sites like it) credibility. I struggle to have faith that every single one of the ‘7 million experienced professionals’ using Linkedin are truly plausible. How does Linkedin police this claim and its user’s profiles to ensure they are genuine?