By Carolyn Thompson
With more than 225 million registered users as of June 2013, LinkedIn has the cornered the market in professional social media. An article on Social Media Today, based on a recent LinkedIn survey by Power Formula, stated that more than 84 percent of LinkedIn users do not pay to upgrade from the free version of the social networking site. Despite this, according to its annual report (PDF), LinkedIn successfully captured more than $972 million in 2012 sales revenue — turning this previously free service into a proven publicly traded market leader, dominating over other popular business executive databases like Zoom Info and Spoke.
Nearly 600,000 results appear when you search for “CPA” on LinkedIn, so what’s in it for you? What purpose does it serve for CPAs?
With statistics showing that two people join LinkedIn every second of every day, you are undoubtedly receiving invitations to connect on LinkedIn whether you have a profile on the site or not. Many professionals are reluctant to join networking sites and/or engage online for a variety of reasons, including fear of identity theft, time commitment and general lack of knowledge around the importance of leveraging online networking to grow your practice and/or advance yourself professionally.
Recent surveys of LinkedIn users showed that 76 percent use the social networking site to research people and companies, and nearly 30 percent have generated identifiable business opportunities. Almost 71 percent find LinkedIn useful in reconnecting with past business associates and colleagues.
LinkedIn has many applications for the accounting professional, including personal promotion and thought leadership, job searching, following employer and client companies for the latest information, event promotion, employment advertising, continuing education opportunities and CPA group communication. Connecting with your personal network through LinkedIn allows you to tap into each of their networks, thus exponentially increasing your personal reach. Reports indicate that up to 22 percent of LinkedIn’s users have between 500 and 999 first-level connections, and nearly 36 percent are members of at least one professional group on LinkedIn — encouraging online professional connections you may never have had the chance to make in person.
There is really no disadvantage to accepting new connections, even if you do not yet personally know the individual, since you are able to easily remove connections. Make an effort to see the benefits in connecting with individuals who may have occasion to refer business to you in the form or a new client, a new employee or even a new career opportunity.
Future clients are looking at your profile on LinkedIn, so it is important to be mindful of how you are presenting yourself. Learn more from Disclosures magazine about what your profile says about you and how to craft your profile to attract the audience you desire to reach.
So, when that next invitation to connect from LinkedIn lands in your inbox, go ahead and accept. Take the opportunity to engage with that person one-on-one with a reply after you have reviewed their profile and determine how a mutually beneficial connection can be created with that individual.
Carolyn Thompson directs a large team of executive recruiters, talent acquisition and human resource professionals at Dixon Hughes Goodman, LLP. She is a certified career coach and has given workshops focusing on LinkedIn best practices. Read her blog at jobsearchjungle.com or contact her at [email protected].