Social Studies: Bringing Focus to Social Networks

by Vault Law Editors | April 14, 2011

  • My Vault

Social networking is everywhere. Your opportunities to connect are vast and varied, and instead of asking “how do I use it?” many people are asking “which should I use?” But maybe the question shouldn’t be “which?”—maybe it should be “in what way?”

At the Conference Board’s Women’s Leadership Conference this week, Ellen Levy—Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at LinkedIn—discussed the various types of social media and concluded that it’s not about choosing among them, “it’s how you use them and when you use them that matter.”

According to Levy, savvy social networking begins with distinguishing the different types of social networks:

1.Social,
2.Broadcast, and
3.Professional.

Networks that are primarily social, like Facebook, are “set up to let people engage with the people they care about,” says Levy. In contrast, Twitter provides a “public broadcast platform,” and LinkedIn is an example of a professional social network. While these three networks have different purposes, that doesn’t mean they don’t overlap. Levy compares social media to our daily activities, likening Facebook to the Sunday BBQ and LinkedIn to the office—we may talk some shop at the BBQ, but we follow up on it and get down to real work at the office on Monday.

Levy’s advice is simple enough—get your networks straight and use them right. But I think her suggestion goes deeper than that. By using different social media for distinct purposes—socializing, building professional contacts and communicating—we can maximize our networking. Rather than jumbling together the various aspects of our lives, we can have a sharp focus on each and therefore cater to those particular networks. Your business contacts don’t want to sift through your vacation photos, and your friends don’t care about your resume, legal blog posts and opinions on the legal industry (and if they do, they can join your professional network). Through these more defined networks, we can attract and keep contacts with similar interests and goals.

Do you maintain more than one social network? If so, do you approach them with different purposes?

The Conference Board
The Conference Board’s Women’s Leadership Conference

Read More:
Legal Tweet: Which BigLaw Firms Are Dabbling in Social Media?
Steer Clear of These Tweet Blunders

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Filed Under: Law

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