Social Networking Sites for Professional Groups

This came across my Twitter feed yesterday morning: Drilling Ahead. Drilling Ahead is a social networking site for Oil and Gas Professionals. The site has Oil Industry and Gas News, Oilfield Jobs, lots of photos and local groups.

This got me thinking about the uses of social media for professionals. Is it worth the time and effort? The answer to that is a resounding yes. Why?

Professionals and and employees in a specific industry can learn a lot from social networking sites. These sites allow for sharing of information and the making of connections with others in the same industry.

Use of social media has increased almost exponentially. Twitter increased over 1300% year over year. The age of users of social media is increasing and more and more sites are being used for professional and marketing purposes and less for what one had for dinner last night.

This year, for the first time, social media overtook email as the most popular use of the Internet.

Canadians are avid Internet and social media users. Here are some interesting statistics on Canadian Internet use.

  1. Digital media usage grew 6% in 2007
  2. Out of developed countries Canada has the:
    • highest Internet penetration (71%) – vs. U.S. of 61%
    • most page views per resident (4k per user) – vs. 3.4k in the U.K.
    • time online (45 hours per month) – vs. 32 hours in the U.K. and 30 in the U.S.
  3. 84% of Canadians (c18mm) are active on social networks viewing 828 pages and spending 6 hours per month on these sites
  4. While Internet growth was just 4% in 2007, social network usage grew 16% and a whopping 70% of users in the 55+ demographic visited a social network.

Where do you find these professional websites?

If you’re in the financial industry, or hoping to be, you might be interested in this article from another blog, “25 Social Media Sites for Financial Professionals“.

Another interesting list is posted by a fellow blogger, Jason Jacobsohn – 10 Niche Social Networking Sites for Professionals.

You can view a massive list on Wikipedia – Wikipedia’s list of social networking sites. That’s a lot of information in one place.

If you’re interested in social networking for your profession, I suggest you do a google search for best social networking sites for (profession) and see what shows up. I did a search for “best social networking sites for realtors”. One source I can recommend is RealEstatewiki.

So, is it worth it? Maybe a story would help illustrate this point. Back in the 1980′s I was selling fax machines in California. The most common excuse I would hear from prospects went something like this, “Why do we need documents right away?” Nobody much liked fax machines then. You might not like social media and might wish it would go away—maybe it will eventually; the fax machine as the primary method of transferring documents certainly did-but, there are going to be years in between now and then when many of your colleagues, customers, and prospects are visiting social media. Will they find you there?

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