Guest Post from Liz Gold, Accounting Today

It’s no secret that social networking is hot, hot, hot.

A lot of what I cover these days includes social media and how accounting firms are using the tools to enhance growth, recruit and retain young staff and become more technologically savvy. Firms are just now realizing the business development potential of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and are creating policies and guidelines within their firms to keep everyone on the same page.

In August, Larry Ritter senior vice president and general manager of CRM Applications came to my New York office and talked about ACT! by Sage 2010. As many ACT! users most likely know, the contact management software is now leveraging social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

It’s not exactly new news, since 2010 has been out now for a while.

But when I saw what it could do, I was, admittedly, kind of shocked.

And no, I haven’t been living under a rock.

The software lets an accounting firm or small business keep track of contacts and pull up people’s profiles on these popular social networking sites – a capability that can be great for learning more about the people you want to connect with, but a privacy issue for those who may not want to be connected to. And yes, I realize that once information hits the Internet, it becomes everybody’s business and you are accessible even if you don’t want or intend to be.

We already know many recruiters use social networking sites to vet potential job candidates and have been for a while – but just because they are doing it and it’s possible, is it OK to do?

As the line between private and public and business and pleasure continues to blur with these high powered tools, I wonder – how do people feel being searched for and investigated without their consent?
Should people scrub up their sites to make sure they are presentable?

Or should companies bone up to the fact that people are people and may not always present themselves in a typical mainstream professional manner all the time?

It’s tricky, since professionalism and how one presents themselves in that manner is subjective to the individual. And companies can be quick to judge, especially if they find something they object to.

I pose a question to 2010 users: how many of you have used that search capability and how many have found out something about potential customers that they wish they never knew? How many of you landed a deal because you were able to impress a prospective customer with the research you had done on them? What’s been your experience?

This software capability will change the way we are doing business. Will we all ultimately be brought closer together because of software like this? And will our culture adapt to knowing more information about who we are doing business with than we perhaps needed to know? Will there be no such thing as personal and business anymore?

Only time will tell and we have software innovators like Sage to thank for challenging us to figure it out.

If you’d like to further discuss these points with me, please contact me at Liz.Gold@sourcemedia.com

Liz Gold
Associate Editor
Accounting Today

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