A recent ExecuNet newsletter cites results from a Luxury Institute Wealth Survey revealing that “60 percent of wealthy Americans with an average income of $287,000/year and net worth of $2.1 million participate in online social networks, compared to just 27 percent a year ago.” It was found that on average they had joined about 2.8 networks. Affluent individuals with $300,000 or more in annual income were even more avid participants, belonging to 3.4 social sites. If successful people are this enamored with online networking, it bears our attention.
There are 100 or more social networking sites, some purely for recreation and personal socializing, and others dedicated to professional or business interaction. (For a list of notable sites, visit Wikipedia.)
Computer World did an analysis recently comparing the features and advantages of the two most prominent sites, LinkedIn and Facebook. They formulated 6 business scenarios to solve, and assigned writers to compare results on Facebook and LinkedIn. As might be expected, each site excelled in different areas, and neither was the clear overall winner. Scenarios tested include Looking for a Job Without Your Boss Knowing, Finding Information about a Job You’re Interviewing For (LinkedIn was the winner in both of these), Solicit Ideas and Discussion from Team Members (Facebook won this one hands-down), and Keeping Track of Former Associates (yielded a tie).
So which site is best, and should you join more than one? There are so many, but for professional and business purposes, LinkedIn seems to be winning the war for members right now. I encourage my executive clients to maintain a LinkedIn profile as part of their ongoing professional networking as well as for building a digital signature. A web presence is becoming increasingly important in job search, as candidates are commonly googled–often before a recruiter or hiring manager initiates the first contact.
In executive circles, it seems to be almost an assumption now that you maintain a profile on LinkedIn. Adding to its utility for career management and job search is its recent integration into the Simply Hired job search engine, as pointed out by Louise Fletcher in a recent Career Hub blog post. What could possibly be more convenient? You search for a job, and then click on a button to find out who in your LinkedIn network may have an “in” at that company. Although Facebook has recently moved from being strictly a social tool to a business tool as well, it seems to be the preferred platform for social interaction with family and friends. Its wider range of services and third party applications concern employers as a likely distraction for their workers.
While online networking is an increasingly important part of an overall career management strategy, one thing to watch for is devoting too much time to joining every “hot” new site with a flashy interface, maintaining your profiles, building your contact lists, and interacting with your networks. As with most things in life, there is a danger of “too much of a good thing.” The ExecuNet article highlighted a Global Secure Systems estimate that employers in the UK lose 3 weeks per year of work time on employees’ social networking activities during business hours.