LinkedIn is the leading social network for businesses and networking. In 2012, the Pew Internet and Social Networking Project found 20% of adults who use online networks use LinkedIn. Only Facebook, which was initially established for socializing only, had more adult participation. Quantcast, a company that tracks website visits, reports LinkedIn had more than 222 million individual sessions originating in the United States between October 12 and November 10, 2013. With numbers like these, there’s a very good chance you have current and prospective clients on LinkedIn. If you aren't actively involved in LinkedIn, you should be.
If you belong to a professional association, such as the AICPA, you will find several sections have created groups on LinkedIn. Here is a sample of AICPA-affiliated LinkedIn groups:
In all, there are currently 71 AICPA groups on LinkedIn. These groups hold discussion forums, answer questions from members, plan conferences (some groups are actually made up of AICPA members who attended certain conferences and workshops), and most importantly, refer one another’s services. Other LinkedIn groups for CPAs focus on topics such as Modern Marketing Methods for Accountants or Russian-American CPAs. Some groups are more social and include fan clubs for virtually all sports teams, language clubs, and interests ranging from fine dining in New York to Yosemite hikers. If you don’t have time to hit the golf course, these groups are another way to socialize and let others know about your work. Some LinkedIn groups are open, while others require you to apply to join. All are free.
You can advertise open positions at your company on your company’s LinkedIn Company Page and make them searchable for potential applicants who are also on LinkedIn. If you are looking for work, LinkedIn has a searchable job database that works similarly to job boards like Monster.com but without all the forms and potential glitches. You apply for positions by sending your LinkedIn profile and a cover letter. You can sign up to receive email alerts about jobs that meet your specifications, and mark your activity as private if you don’t want others to know you’re actively looking.
A final reason to use LinkedIn that any CPA can appreciate is that the basic service is free. Moreover, you can use LinkedIn as much as you like. While basic membership has a few limitations such as a cap on InMails (an upgraded membership offers benefits like increased numbers of permitted InMail and expanded insights on page visitors), the free membership is generous and allows you to be on the site as much as you like. Using the free membership is a great way to dive in and familiarize yourself with all that LinkedIn has to offer. In fact, not using LinkedIn is akin to being professionally reclusive. Ten years ago, you wouldn’t dream of opting out of a Yellow Pages listing. Today, you need to get LinkedIn.