In the last few years, LinkedIn has been leveraging the network via user groups. These groups are similar to the old CompuServe forums we may have used, but they are way more effective given the size of the network. Folks can post questions for help and offer advice in as little as a few minutes. A daily digest comes to your email where you can learn about the challenges your peers face, which of course prepares you for the future. You can use the group functionality to augment your specialty as well as to promote it. So get an account at LinkedIn, find a few groups that you are interested in and start getting connected.
Facebook started in 2004 and now has over 500M active users. Think about that: More people are on Facebook than live in the United States. You cannot ignore this juggernaut. Even if you don’t understand it today, you have to tomorrow. Facebook has many of the features that LinkedIn has with groups. Individuals can post information in a group, and all members in the group receive real-time updates. One challenge with Facebook is the consumer focus. LinkedIn is solely about your career and has a business focus. Facebook is primarily about your social life — posting pictures of food you eat, talking about your weekend and sharing your personal life in a public setting. Large companies have started leveraging Facebook to promote their brand to their customers. The model is evolving and will be important so start playing around with it if you haven’t already.
Finally, Twitter was started in 2006 and has over 100M registered users. In its short history, it has managed to change the way we gather and share information. Though it may be more known for promoting change in Iran during the pro democracy demonstrations a few years back, it is being used more and more to promote businesses. If the taco truck can use it to let folks know when it is at the corner or the baker can use it to let customers know cookies are fresh out of the oven, then accountants can use it to promote their “specialty.”
These tools are new, but the need for professionals to help businesses improve
is not. As readers of this publication, you are already a step ahead because
you know the importance of being ahead of the market and ahead of your clients.
The good news is that these new technologies will help you grow your own firm
and help your clients at the same time. Show your mastery of them, and nobody
will refer to you as a “bean counter.”