I wrote a lot last year about the increasing importance of social networks in business writing, including the potential of social media and pitfalls of social media writing for business. I recommended that you join LinkedIn to gain needed experience with "web 2.0" writing. Web 2.0 (web-speak for collaboratively interactive and user-created content) technologies are increasingly becoming part of every business person's writing, in company blogs, intranets, knowledge bases, HR and customer support portals, and technical support. Now, I'll make an even stronger statement about social networks and business writing: every business professional should be using LinkedIn.
Last week, a colleague called me to ask if I could recommend a good business accountant. I highly recommended my accountant to my colleague, and after explaining my accountant's skill and excellent customer service, my colleague was all set to hire him. Two days later, my colleague called me again, and asked:
"Don't you think it's odd that this accountant isn't on LinkedIn? This makes me wonder how much focus he gives to current skills. Is he out of the loop with the tax code, also?"
This made me curious about other industries, so I called three job recruiter friends, representing the broad career specialties of pharmaceutical sales, customer service representatives, and executive recruiting. I asked them if they would perceive a business professional as out-of-date, or less skilled, if he or she were not using LinkedIn. Every single recruiter said, "yes."
LinkedIn is not just for job-searching. It also allows you to make connections, and ask questions of other professionals in your field. It helps you hone current professional skills, as well as gain experience interacting in a networked, interactive environment.
We use LinkedIn extensively for our executive business writing coaching. When we begin working with a new client, I always review his or her LinkedIn profile, to help me understand the job and company, to better focus the coaching.
If you are not yet using LinkedIn, make it your New Year's Resolution to join. It will enhance your understanding of interactive, collaborative writing, as well as provide opportunity to network with other professionals in your field. Here is a great video to help you set up a profile (and use it better, if you already are using LinkedIn): How and Why to Use LinkedIn.