UJA-NNJ hosts seminar on Web networking
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UJA-NNJ hosts seminar on Web networking

LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Friendster….

There are so many social networking Websites to choose from these days that figuring out how to best use them all can be daunting, while not signing up for at least one can leave a person on the outside looking in at his social life. Beyond online Scrabble, photo albums, and status updates, these sites can provide professional advantages, too.

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LinkedIn’s Brian Tietje explains the site’s business advantages during a UJA-NNJ seminar Tuesday. Josh Lipowsky

On Tuesday, UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey’s Business & Professionals division brought a representative of LinkedIn to explain the ins and outs of the Website and how it can be a marketing tool.

“The whole goal of social media marketing is very critical to the B&P member,” said Leslie Reiser, the federation’s chair of the LinkedIn event. “We felt this was fairly topical,” she added, noting many more people are looking for new jobs now because of the economy.

Marshall Wilen, who said the event inspired him to develop his existing LinkedIn profile, called the site “the working person’s Facebook.”

“It’s the adult opportunity to leverage social networking,” he said.

Most of the nearly 100 people there raised their hands when Brian Tietje, a strategic account executive for LinkedIn, asked who was already on the site. But many admitted they weren’t sure how to take advantage of the site in their businesses.

“LinkedIn is about finding people,” Tietje said simply.

LinkedIn claims more than 32 million professionals in its network in 133 countries and 150 industries. In contrast to Facebook, which has a youth base, the average age of a LinkedIn user is 41, while the average income is $100,000.

“This is an affluent crowd. It’s an educated crowd,” he said, noting that 90 percent of LinkedIn users have college degrees.

Unlike other social networking sites, which Tietje called “timesinks,” LinkedIn is “all business-focused.”

“There’s nothing there to time-sink except maybe looking up where people you went to school with are,” he said. (“Timesinks” are a waste of time.)

Some Websites, such as ZoomInfo, comb the Internet and put business information in their databases without the subjects’ approval. LinkedIn is voluntary, Tietje said, maintaining that the user is in charge.

“If you want to control what people know about you, you have to do it on LinkedIn,” he said.

Before starting out on LinkIn, Tietje recommended that users figure out their professional goals for using the site.

“If you don’t understand your professional objective or what you’d like to get out of something, you’re not going to be able to use it for that purpose,” he said.

LinkedIn can be used to find jobs, network, or find new answers to professional questions, he said. For example, 200,000 users identify as IBM employees and they all can be resources to other users.

“There’s a lot of knowledge there,” Tietje said. “It’s a huge knowledge exposure tool when used properly.”

Designing a LinkedIn profile is not like writing a résumé, Tietje warned. The average attention span of somebody surfing the Internet is only two or three seconds, he said, so users have to make that time count with their profiles. Profiles should support the user’s objective in using the site, whether it is looking for a new job, finding new business leads, or headhunting.

“This is where the branding starts,” he said. “This is your marketing slick. The most important topic all of us have is ourselves.”

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