If you asked me which social network I used the least (well, second to least, since I barely use Google+), the answer would be LinkedIn. Part of this is because I’ve always felt LinkedIn was more like a resume and Rolodex on steroids, and I questioned it’s real world use. I haven’t changed my mind about that, but as I’ve gotten more into social media I’ve tried to make myself give LinkedIn a second look. After all, it does have more than 300 million members, about 100 million of whom are in the United States, and has tallied an impressive 5.7 billion searches on its website.
So, that being said, here’s my question: Can LinkedIn be used by elected officials? Yes, I think so.
I was involved sales in my previous career, in addition to social media, and I never really used LinkedIn for these purposes; it just always seemed to overt. I preferred the value-added approach that Facebook, Twitter and blogging provided. That being said, I did get a great deal out of the various professional development groups that I belonged to, including groups that were oriented around sales, social media or Chamber of Commerce employees. There are many similar groups out there for elected officials that focus on topics you may be interested in, like economic development or education. Joining those groups can give you insight into trends in these areas, as well as access to a network of experts that you can use to ask questions about policy and politics.
Following local businesses and connecting with executives can give you a great chance to increase your local outreach. Those connections are possible on different mediums, but there are still plenty of people out there who only use social media for work – and those people are going to be on LinkedIn. To that end, using LinkedIn gives you a chance to connect with people that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
During my time working for the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, I found that there were dozens of local business groups that were dedicated towards networking and event promotion. The value of many of these groups is questionable at best (all they did was spam each other), but many of these groups were helpful in keeping track of the pulse of the local business community. To that end, joining these groups is a great way of monitoring what’s happening in your business sector.
…but, it’s a question of resources
You only have so much time in a day, and as I’ve argued before, it is possible for an elected official to use social media too much. To that end, you can get more of a bang for your buck on other networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. So, my recommendation is this: use LinkedIn sparingly, if at all.
Agree or disagree? Give us your thoughts in the comments!