There is a bit of a debate raging at the moment about whether Facebook is the new LinkedIn. Paul Walsh sent out a call the other day for his business contacts to join him on Facebook rather than on LinkedIn. Facebook’s popularity has gone through the roof in recent months and it is not surprising. Facebook is a fantastic way for people to keep track of their friends and what they are doing and as more people in business start to use it, they start to see parallels between Facebook and business networking tools they are using. I can see why people would look to Facebook as a business networking tool too, I just don’t think that is how I would want to use Facebook.
The question, I suppose, is whether you want to separate your business network from your social network. I agree with Dan Nye, LinkedIn’s CEO when he says that many people prefer to have distinct social and business networks and that sites like LinkedIn will continue to dominate the business networking space. I spend a lot more time on Facebook than I do on LinkedIn but then Facebook is my space for me and my friends to share non-work related experiences. I friend people I know or want to know on a more personal level in Facebook although this is where Facebook and LinkedIn converge for me because I connect to people I would like to develop a business relationship with in LinkedIn. What keeps them apart for me is that Facebook isn’t about business for me and LinkedIn isn’t my space to share photos of my puppies and my taste in movies.
I suppose it is a fine line depending on your perspective and there are people like Paul who are talking more about more about Facebook replacing the likes of LinkedIn and Xing as a social and business networking tool. Perhaps the challenge isn’t the platform but more how we view the distinction between work and play?