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Barry MacQuarrie
Iím LinkedIn

Now what?

March 4, 2010
by Barry MacQuarrie, CPA

In my February 2010 article, I outlined some basic steps that CPAs can take to get started with LinkedIn. Hopefully, many of you were able to benefit from this information. I’m afraid that there are still many CPAs who have not yet discovered the value of LinkedIn.

I know it is tax season and CPAs across the country are busy. It’s no time to be spending time on social networking sites like LinkedIn or is it? Just one person’s opinion, but I think tax season is a great time to get LinkedIn!

The power of social networking sites increases with each connection you make. During tax season, you have the opportunity to interact with a significant number of clients and other business professional. You can use LinkedIn to stay connected to these contacts. You increase the power and value of your LinkedIn network with each connection.

This month I will continue my series of articles on social networking and focus on strategies to help you connect to others on LinkedIn. This article will also offer advice about LinkedIn Groups, Recommendations and Settings.

Connecting With Others

There are several ways to connect with others on LinkedIn. The easiest method is to search for a person’s profile by entering their name in the search tool found on the top right of the LinkedIn home page. If they have a common name, like Rick Smith, you can use the Filter By options that appear on the left side of the Find People window. You can filter the list by location, relationship (to you), industry, employer information and several other options.

Once you find the person, you can click the Add to network hyperlink and this will open the Invite to Connect window. This form will allow you to demonstrate how you know the person and type a personal note to them.

You can also find your contacts using the LinkedIn Companies search tool. Simply click the drop down to the left of the search window and select Companies. This may be helpful when you are trying to locate colleagues at a client, partner or a former employer. You will see a list of Current Employees, Former Employees, New Hires and Popular Profiles when you open a Company’s LinkedIn page. Each of these sections may contain the names of people with whom you want to connect.

You may also see people who have one of the following LinkedIn logos in their e-mail signature or on their Web site:
 

Simply click the logo and the hyperlink will take you to the person’s LinkedIn Profile. Again, you can use the Add to Network link to invite the person to connect to you.

The final method to find people is to view your contacts’ connections. You will see a Connections hyperlink when you open a contact’s profile page. Click the hyperlink and a screen full of their connections will appear. Review the list and you might just find that you know some of their connections.

Join a Group

LinkedIn Groups allows members to connect with other business professionals that have similar interests. You will find many groups that involve CPAs. For example, the AICPA and many state societies have active groups. There are also industry groups like the Association for Accounting Administrators that have active groups.

To find a group, simply select Groups from the search drop down list, type the name of the group in the search box and click on the search magnifying glass. Each person’s homepage shows the groups that a person belongs to in LinkedIn. You can use this information to find groups that you want to join. As a member of a group, you can participate in discussions, post news and link to other group members. Each group has a Group Profile page that lists all group members that are in your network.

Recommendations

You might notice that some of your LinkedIn connections have been recommended by their colleagues. These recommendations can give you some insight about the person, their experiences and talents. Recommendations can also be helpful as you seek to learn about a potential new employee or prospective client.

Recommendations can be a valuable tool; but they are something that you should approach with caution. It is a natural impulse to recommend employees or co-workers. Seems like a nice gesture, right? Here’s the catch. Your recommendation can appear on a person’s LinkedIn page after they change jobs. What happens when your superstar employee (for whom you wrote a LinkedIn recommendation) goes to work for the competition? Your LinkedIn recommendation goes with them and you look like you are recommending your competition!

Settings

There is a very important hyperlink in the top right corner of your LinkedIn profile page. It is the Settings hyperlink. If you have not done so already, I would strongly suggest that you click this hyperlink.
The account settings page will allow you to:

  • Update your profile
  • Upload a photograph
  • Manage your recommendation
  • Add your Twitter account to your profile
  • Enter or update your contact settings
  • Manage your Group settings

The account settings page has several privacy settings that you should review. Do you care if other LinkedIn members see your connections? Is it a problem if your clients, employees or referral sources know about each other? If so, you may want to change the default Connections Browse setting. Do you want to be invited to participate in market research studies? Do you want your connections to be notified when you update your status, make significant changes to your profile or recommend someone?
I recommend that you spend time looking at each option on the Account Settings page and decide how you want LinkedIn to work for you!

Until Next Month

I hope you enjoy using social networking sites to connect with your colleagues, get involved in some groups, meet new professionals and reconnect with old classmates and friends. The challenge is to determine how you generate business and attract talented professionals.

Next month, I will continue my series on social networking. I hope this information is valuable to you and welcome any feedback or suggestions for future topics. If you want to reach my LinkedIn profile, simply click here!

Enjoy!

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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. He also has expertise in workflow, process improvement, disaster recovery planning, security and paperless office technologies.