Work or Play?

Thoughts By 8 years ago

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?

  • For me, Facebook is strictly for friends and LinkedIn strictly for business contacts – there is no crossover, its one or the other. I tend to agree with Tom Davenport’s perspective that LinkedIn is NOT social networking as it lacks dialogue.

    LinkedIn for me is a really useful tool to support my real life networking. When I meet someone new in real life, I will search LinkedIn for their profile. I then get a better perspective on who they are, what they have achieved, who they know and their interests. This piece of information can equip me with better knowledge of the person, and generates more meaningful dialogue and better relationships faster. I don’t believe it is networking, instead a tool to enhance real life networking. As my contacts change, move jobs or contact details, I am kept up to date.

    In terms of policing user profiles for accurate information, I believe this would occur naturally as a fake profile will not attract ‘connections’. If you are pretend, no one will associate with you. If I said on my profile that I am an astronaut (i’m not an astronaut), it would be unlikely that my colleagues and contacts would associate themselves with me, as i’m not credible. Especially in relation to the recommendations (references) feature in LinkedIn.

  • Unless the Internet wires are cut, I think the tools of social networking are only going to get bigger.

    LinkedIn is very much a useful tool it really depends on how you use it. The same basic networking principles should apply to the tool as you would use online or off-line, so LinkendIn does have merit. I can personally say that it has brought business to me, and has enabled me to to reach out through my contacts to others who might be able assist in needs that I’m after.

    In regards to other forms of social networking the jury is still out on Facebook. It is great tool but needs to managed as a different tool, use it like you would be holding a conversation with friends around for a BBQ or dinner.

    Twitter well I’m strong believer that this technology is better for to sourcing and searching answers from your followers very quickly. But once again you need to be using the basic principles and be engaging in the conversation back and forth, you can’t just shout out to everyone “I want a new job, Hire Me” you need to build trust among the peers before they will reach back.

    So as business also adapts and change with the era, I would say the business networking tools will become a more credible tool. Your not going to put fake stuff on your linked-in its to easy to reach out to others who are contacted to verify your credibility. If I was looking for someone I would instantly start through the social networks to source the right people.

    On a side note its interesting to see how many HR agencies are now sourcing and reaching out to people through these channels of networks.

    That’s my two dollars on the subject.