LinkedIn appears to be the leading business social media site currently available. But why should Accounting Professionals use it?
I think there are three reasons an Accounting Professional should use LinkedIn. They are not in any order or ranking because their order of importance changes depending on your needs at the time. The three reasons every Accounting Professional are:
Exchange of Ideas and Solutions to Business Problems Through Group Discussions Participating or better yet starting a discussion in a LinkedIn Group is a great way to exchange ideas on various topics. There are countless numbers of Groups on LinkedIn and more created every day. Whatever your interest: whether it is in a specific Industry, software or technical accounting & finance issue; there are many groups to choose from where you can join and ask questions, share ideas and received sound business advice on how to handle certain situations. Many people are “lurkers”, that is not a bad thing. They read discussions and the related comments and gain valuable insight into a specific topic. For even greater results, the key is to “give” just not “take”. Most people find the more they participate in topics of interest to them, the more insight they receive. You may even build a “following” of fellow Group members who seek out your advice and suggestions on topics of interest.
Visibility to Potential Clients and/or Peers Most Accounting Professionals are very proud of what they do and enjoy discussing their areas of interest or problems they are facing. When this is done at a CPE seminar, others recognize your interest and expertise in your areas of knowledge. It feels good to be recognized and it can lead to potential business opportunities or further professional development.
When you exchange business cards with someone, three things may happen: Your card ends up in a pile in someone’s drawer. They add you to their mailing list. They “check you out”. If they decide to “check you out” they may do one or all of three things: They review your company website. They “google” you. They search for you on LinkedIn and review your profile. The third item, review your LinkedIn Profile is quickly becoming the first thing many people do. What does your Profile look like? Does it give someone a quick summary of your professional experience? Does it highlight your areas of expertise? Does it invite someone to reach out to you if they have a question in an area mutual of interest? Does your Profile encourage prospective clients or business associates to contact you directly? Oh by the way, make sure your contact information is easy to find. All of the above can be accomplished in just a couple hours a week. You can increase your knowledge and increase your “network” and you never had to leave your desk. We all need to attend CPE training, monthly business group meetings and charitable events in some form or another. Typically these events always have a Networking period. The combination of these events and using LinkedIn can have a tremendous effect on your continuing education and expanding your network of colleagues. Visibility for Finding New Career Opportunities Regardless of the reason, we all will explore or switch employers at some time.
For many of us it is a stressful and awkward time. Emotions can run the gamut from “feeling guilty” for leaving our current employer to “I can’t wait to get out of here” mindset. Also, for many of us, we are starting from the beginning when initiating our search. It means dealing with “Recruiters” again, for many not a pleasant experience. It may mean risking your “confidentiality”, in that your current employer does not know you are looking. You may not even be sure you want to leave your current position, but just want to learn about the other opportunities that are “out there”. Having an up to date, informative LinkedIn Profile along with participating in Groups can help you become aware of potential career choices with a limited amount of intrusion. Internal Corporate Recruiters and outside Search Firms all use LinkedIn extensively to identify potential candidates for the positions. If they review your Profile, they may send you an “inmail” or email inquiring if you have interest in exploring a position they are trying to fill. Even if you are not interested, your awareness has been raised as to the type of positions that are available and the prospective compensation range. If you are not interested, a quick polite “no thank you” response will get the Recruiter to move on to the next person. You could even just “delete” their message and not respond at all. I suggest the quick “no thank you at this time reply” because you never know when your circumstances dictate that you want to hear about potential opportunities.
If you have any interest at all, you can use their LinkedIn Profile to determine if they are the type of professional Recruiter you would wish to establish a relationship or explore opportunities they may be working. Conclusion Whether: exchanging ideas or finding solutions to business problems; becoming more visible to potential clients and business associates or exploring new career opportunities: LinkedIn can be a valuable tool. So take the plunge and join a few Groups, read/comment on a few discussions, construct a more informative Profile and you will increase your network and awareness of what is happening in your profession.
You will be glad you did.