Business cottons onto social networking

2007

If you thought that the explosion of online social networking was strictly a teenage and generation-Y phenomenon, it is time to think again. Because according to a new survey, many business professionals are getting in on the act, too.

A new survey by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) has found that two-thirds of American business professionals are now clicking and connecting via personal and professional social networking web sites.

"We expected to see a number of respondents utilizing social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook for personal reasons, but we were intrigued at the high percentage of business professionals that use social networking for professional purposes," said Jay Jamrog, i4cp senior vice president of research.

"In an age where more and more employees work remotely and people frequently change companies, it makes sense that the business community would turn to the Web to stay connected."

But this isn't to suggest that hordes of executives are giving the kids a run for their money on MySpace or YouTube. By far the most popular site for professionals is LinkedIn, a site specifically designed for professional networking, followed by Yahoo! 360.

About half of the respondents whose organizations are using social networking sites do so to keep staff and remote employees connected, with a similar proportion using them to connect with potential clients and to showcase their skills.

Meanwhile, a third use online networks to help them in finding a job.

But it's not all about connecting in the conventional sense. Networks also are being leveraged to raise the IQ of organizations through the sharing of best practices with colleagues or to get answers to issues they are facing.

"Companies and employees have often gravitated to trade associations and shows for one primary benefit: community," Jay Jamrog said.

"Social networks have opened a new dynamic in bringing that community online, and the ability to share what's working and what isn't in real time is invaluable to many employees today.

"We expect to see this continue in earnest among corporations, and we particularly expect to see the small- to medium-size business market gravitate here so that they can augment traditionally thin staffs with expertise from larger organizations."