To Be Linked
By: Rebecca Petras (GALA)
03 June 2009
Facebook, Twitter, Flixster, LinkedIn: They make up the fastest growing segment of the Internet. In fact, two-thirds of online users access member communities, which include social networks and blogs, according to research conducted this year by The Nielsen Company. They have even overtaken email as the fourth most popular online category, and they are growing twice as fast as any other category.
“Social networking has become a fundamental part of the global online experience,” says John Burbank, CEO of Nielsen Online. “Social networking will continue to alter not just the global online landscape, but the consumer experience at large.” But are these sites just fun, and a great way to procrastinate, or are they useful in business? How are they being used in our world of languages and localization?
It turns out that the fifth most visited social network internationally, LinkedIn, is the most popular spot for localization professionals. Unlike many other networking sites, LinkedIn grew as a result of ‘professionals’ connecting with each other more than ‘friends.’ In its first few years (it was founded in 2003), it was known as an ‘insiders’ approach to job seeking and job posting. But in the last couple of years it has broadened into a rich community for all types of industries. And in 2008, LinkedIn boosted its population significantly by building a strong international presence.
As the ‘localization’ of LinkedIn continues (it is currently the most popular professional network in Europe with more than five million users and is available in several European languages, but it is not heavily used in Asia yet), so does its popularity among localization professionals. Within the language and localization industry, it has become a place to post news, ask questions, discuss industry trends and conduct surveys. It is a way to educate yourself, build your connections and make yourself and your company noticed by prospective localization users. GALA even used it as one way to introduce GALA 2009 to the localization community.
Have you linked up? Here are a few of the key ways you can participate.
First, build a personal profile. It is free, requiring your email address and a password. Once you have provided that information, you are ready to build your profile. You will get the most out of LinkedIn by completing as much of the profile as possible. That includes your current and past employment, your industry focus, your picture and your education. LinkedIn will let you know how far you have completed your profile. So if you add your picture or your past work experience, it will indicate that your profile is more complete.
LinkedIn allows you to get recommendations as a third-party ‘endorsement’ of your work. This is not just for folks seeking jobs—it is a way to elevate your overall profile. You can ask another LinkedIn user to provide a short recommendation that will show up on your profile.
Once you have created your profile, you can edit it by going back to ‘profile.’ But most of the time you will use the home page instead, which now will be tailored to your profile. For example, if you have indicated you are in the localization industry, your home page will show upcoming localization events that have been posted by other users. It also will show interesting discussions and questions from users within your industry. Answering a question or participating in a discussion will ‘boost’ your LinkedIn status and make you more visible within the industry. Remember, these types of connections can lead to all kinds of new professional opportunities. A quick view of your home page each day—no more than 15 minutes—is a great way to keep up in the industry and build your network.
Next, make sure your company is LinkedIn. The company profiles on LinkedIn have become more popular in the last year, making creating one a great extension to your company website and/or blog. LinkedIn will display ‘metrics’ on the company page to validate your company and its employees. A number of GALA’s members have company pages developed already.
One person from the company should create the profile and all employees should link their individual profiles to it. One GALA member, McElroy Translation, formalized the process by having a person in charge of the company page and then reminding employees to link themselves to the page. Linking to the company page is accomplished by editing the ‘current’ employer section within the individual’s profile. Once the company page is up and running, it can be edited by any linked employee (although it is best if one person is in charge of updating). Its usefulness is extended by linking to the company website or blog, or even by creating a short company blog on LinkedIn.
Now that you have created personal and company profiles, join some network groups. There are some fabulous localization industry networks on LinkedIn. GALA’s group, with 950 members (open to member company employees and end user companies) is a very active group with many discussions. Other active networks in the localization and language space are The Localization Professional, managed by Serge Gladkoff, with more than 3,500 members, and the Localization and Globalization Fusion Society, managed by Common Sense Advisory, with more than 1,500 members. All of these, as well as many others, can be found by conducting a search of LinkedIn groups (through the search field on any LinkedIn page).
Once you’ve joined some networks, use them effectively to meet with folks who have a common interest in business—network as you would if you were at a trade conference. You can display your industry knowledge by participating in some of the discussions. You can post news to all members of the group—maybe a new report you’ve conducted, or an article you’ve published (always provide the link). In GALA’s case, we post updates to the GALA 2009 program as well as some information on our quarterly survey. You also can ask questions and get useful answers. Recently I posted a question about RFPs in the localization industry. The answers I received helped immensely as I wrote questions on RFPs for an upcoming survey from GALA. Again, limit yourself to a few minutes each day or designate one day per week when you spend 30 minutes on your groups.
Like many things in life, the more you use LinkedIn, the more valuable it can become. At the same time, the more you use it, the more time you can waste! It is important to strike a balance to make sure you are using it effectively without taking away from other important activities. And once you have it all figured out, you can start tweeting too! (More on that another time.)
Rebecca Petras is the PR and marketing specialist for GALA.