Is There a Social Network in Your Future?
Truths and myths debunked.
I think that we, as CPAs, often get a bad rap for being introverted. I know plenty of CPAs who enjoy networking with their peers at the local chamber of commerce, during golf outings and at fundraisers. These traditional networking activities provide business professionals a means to meet others and develop business opportunities.
The networking landscape is changing and it’s happening fast! Those of us in the over-30 crowd have finally discovered what our kids have known for some time. You can make friends, share ideas, find employees and even develop business opportunities by using any number of online social networks.
This article divulges the benefits of social networking, discusses the popular networks and provides some precautions you might need to know before you venture online.
The ABCs of Social Networking
According to Wikipedia, “A social network service focuses on building online communities of people who share interests and/or activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others.”
Further, dictionary.com defines social networking as “the use of a Web site to connect with people who share personal or professional interests, place of origin, education at a particular school, etc.”
If you have teenagers, you may know a thing or two about social networking. You may have even heard your child say something like, “Sorry, I don’t have time to cut the grass, I’m Facebooking.” Facebook and other social networks are extremely popular and are changing the way that we interact with others.
According to Nielsen Online, Myspace.com ranks as the top site in their “Top 10 Social Networking Site as for September 2008 (U.S., Home and Work).” It is interesting to note that their survey shows Facebook and LinkedIn had growth rates over a one-year period of 116 percent and 193 percent respectively while Myspace.com grew by only one percent over the same period.
Since the beginning of the social-networking phenomenon, the focus has been on connecting with our friends to share ideas, opinions and memories. The popular social networking sites are:
A World of Social Networking Opportunities
People often dismiss social networks as “a place just for kids” or “just a big waste of time.” While these are legitimate concerns, there are several benefits of social networking that just might help you and your business. In my opinion, the benefits include:
As a CPA, I have been trained to be skeptical. Although, I have started to embrace the world of social networking, it has not happened without much caution and skepticism. Borrowing a line from Sergeant Esterhaus on Hill Street Blues, I would caution you “Hey, be careful out there.” If and when you start to use social networks, you should tread lightly and cautiously. It is up to you to protect yourself.
Embracing the Change
Social networks are changing the way that we interact with those around us. As the over-30 crowd becomes more involved, these sites will adapt to meet our needs. Companies will start to involve their employees, customers, referral sources and vendors in their social-networking groups. Many will use existing social networks, like Facebook and LinkedIn, while others will start their own.
Social networks can be a great tool when used properly. I would encourage you to learn about these new technologies and cautiously start to embrace the change. Look for ways that you can use social networks to benefit you and your company.
I look forward to meeting you online!
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Barry MacQuarrie, CPA, is the Director of Technology at KAF Financial Group. MacQuarrie has extensive experience working with CPA firm technologies and expertise in workflow, process improvement, disaster recovery planning, security and paperless office technologies.