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Why LinkedIn is more relevant to most accountants than twitter

posted in: Linkedin, Social Media | 5

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.

Related ebook: Specifically for accountants who want to better understand Linkedin and how you use it passively or actively. Click here for full details>>>

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Mark Lee

Mark is a speaker, mentor, facilitator, author, blogger and debunker. Mark Lee helps professionals who want to STAND OUT and be remembered, referred and recommended using his 7 fundamental principles to ceate a more powerful professional impact, online and face to face.

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5 Responses

  1. Mike Smith
    | Reply

    Hi Mark

    Linkedin is very different from other ‘Social Networks’ and it’s interesting to see the numbers of Accountants registered.

    From the clients I work with there is absolutely no doubt that the vast majority are far more comfortable with the professional aspect of Linkedin rather than the immediate ‘social interaction’ offered by the likes of Twitter and Facebook.

    However this is not a comment on the effectiveness of each. And indeed my own experience shows that in particular Twitter has been very successful for a number of clients.

    And to be a little controversial it’s interesting that my female accounting clients take to the more social aspect of social media far easier than the majority of their male counterparts.

    This is not part of an empirical study of course but I’ll come back to you when we’ve put 100 female and 100 male clients through a Social Networking program.



  2. Dave Clarke
    | Reply

    My experience supports your view that Linkedin is more relevant. It would also seem to be more relevant for other professionals.

    The membership of NRG networking groups is made up mostly of professionals and the owners & directors of service businesses (mainly b2b). The use of the different sites by our users suggests they view Linkedin as more relevant.

    The numbers and quality of interactions are higher in our Linkedin Group than NRG groups on the other sites you mention (ecademy, facebook and twitter).

    I think networking online AND offline is all about building relationships where people get to know, like and trust you. The important consideration for business networking is that the people you build those relationships with are in a position to refer you in the course of their everyday experiences. You should be networking online and offline in the networks where those people are members.

    As you said you can use LinkedIn to find those people and to be found by others.

  3. You make an excellent point Mark in suggesting that we should view “online networks” differently to “social networks”. In the “real world” before the Internet, this is what accountants (and others) did. They joined the Round Table for some fun and to help local charities. They joined the Chamber of Commerce to meet potential clients. And they joined a local sports club to meet up with friends. In other words, prior to the Internet we divided up our social networks in our mind – categorising them into their specific, personal functions.

    However, with the rise in online social networking there has been a tendency to lump them all together. People who love LinkedIn then complain that Twitter doesn’t have the same level of functionality. Or people on Facebook say that LinkedIn is too formal and business-like. But making such comparisons is rather like someone going to the Chamber of Commerce meeting and complaining that there wasn’t enough sporting activity. Or someone who visited their sporting club complaining it doesn’t have a fund raising committee, like the Round Table has.

    I don’t think accountants should think in terms of Either/Or when it comes to online social networks. Instead, it’s about focusing on what you are going to use each online network for. And that is often true, also of offline networking. Far too many business people I meet seem to have the same strategy for every networking event they go to – which is usually merely handing out loads of business cards…!

  4. Edwin Whittingham
    | Reply

    Following on from the points made above I have recently joined a new network called netLinked which brings together the benefits of Linkedin and also face to face networking.

    The USP is that you get to know, like and trust people across the whole membership, not just in a small group, and have access to all their contacts.

    Have a look at the website and you’ll see what I mean.

  5. Grant Rowson
    | Reply

    Mark, completely agree.

    Twitter’s main use is “in the now real-time reporting” — I do use it frequently for research (latest breaking news — such as discovering your latest blog entry, above).

    But LinkedIn is the tool for connections, networking, “what’s the latest contact info for so-and-so”, etc.

    As you say, the various “online networks” are different tools for different purposes.

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