So, what is the difference between social and professional online networking? Great question! Easy answer is Facebook/Twitter equals “social” and LinkedIn equals “professional”. I talk to many business owners and managers who are fearful of getting involved in either for various reasons, but most simply assume that all social media is the same. Not true of course.
First off, I encourage every professional in the world who depends on a personal brand of any kind to get a LinkedIn account right away. Although the reasons to join LinkedIn are too many to start listing in total, the biggest, I feel, is the ability to connect with individuals who value professional growth and demonstrate that ideal by being active in their respective online professional space. The benefit from professional networking of any kind is connecting to individuals who are involved for the same reasons you are and online professional networking sites make it easier to connect with these individuals.
For companies and businesses there’s significant value in getting involved in social media as well. For one thing, its reach is truly remarkable. When companies invest time into learning how to create a company page on these sites, they are able to connect with their most avid customers and users in a fun and interactive way. Social media is also a great way to deliver promotional materials that are very trackable. Plus, all of these sites are totally free of charge.
The obvious dangers of social media are in making sure your business brand is protected and that your company image is not being projected in a negative light. Not surprisingly, some employees and individuals will post negative comments about their employer and fellow employees. Surely, your HR policies mandate against any negative messaging on blogs or social media sites, but to enforce this, a company must employ power users of these tools who truly understand the inner working of these sites and are able to monitor messaging about your company.
Of course, whether you choose to dive head first into social media or wade in slowly, it is something we must all acknowledge. Social media users doubled from 2007 to 2009 and in total are approaching 100 million in the United States alone. Even if you are not accessing these sites, your employees certainly are and so are your potential employees.
So don’t give up on social media. Just as the color TV, personal computer, and cell phone before it, social media is here to stay. The best strategy is to maximize its value to you and your organization.
About Nate Elgert
Nate was born and raised in Lincoln, Neb., graduated from Lincoln East High School, and went on to The University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC) where he was a four year letter-winner on the men’s golf team earning a bachelor’s degree in communication in 1999. Nate took a winding road back to Lincoln that led through Phoenix, Des Moines, Chicago, back to Kansas City, and then finally Lincoln once again in 2005. Before coming to Aureus Group in 2006 as an account manager in the Lincoln Accounting and Finance office, Nate was a golf professional, an advertising rep, and a mortgage lender. Currently, Nate is a senior account manager. He enjoys playing basketball, golf, and time with his wife Angie, his daughter Sofia, 2. Nate and Angie welcomed their second little girl in May.