In previous blog entries, I have talked about the importance of managing your online brand. One important part of this is participation in social networking websites. If you are not yet familiar with the term, social networking refers to websites that are designed to make it easy for people to share information about themselves, and at the same time, connect with others who have similar interests.
Social network websites come in many different forms to meet the diverse needs of their members. According to Wikipedia, the 10 most popular social networking websites are:
- Windows Live Spaces
While you may be familiar with some of these social networking websites, many of them may be new to you. This is because many of these top 10 sites are popular in countries other than the United States.
While social network websites can be fun and bring people with similar interests together, what role do they play for DBAs? While this list is not all inclusive, some of the benefits for DBAs joining social networking websites include:
- Finding and connecting with DBAs locally who you didn’t know exist. This may be a way to find out how many DBAs are in your local area so that you can get together and perhaps start a local user’s group.
- Connect with DBAs throughout the world who share common interests. For example, if you are into SSIS packages, perhaps you might want to find other DBAs who find SSIS packages as fascinating as you do.
- To keep up with your DBA friends, no matter where they are.
- To make it easy for people to find and connect with you. This can be very important if you are a consultant or are looking for a new job.
- To promote yourself and manage your online brand. Many social network websites are in effect mini-websites you can share with others who you are and what you know.
As you might imagine, some social networking websites are more applicable to DBAs than others, especially if you want to use them for self-promotion or for business-related relationships. In a recent poll on SQLServerCentral.com, DBAs were asked what social networking websites they belong to. The top 6 results included:
As you can see, there is not a lot of overlap between the list of the top 10 most popular social networking websites on the Internet and the top 6 used by DBAs who visit SQLServerCentral.com. I think this is because most DBAs, who do participate in social network websites, choose those that are more business-oriented, not the ones that are more social-orientated.
Personally, there are three social networking websites that I use extensively, all of which happen to be in the top 6 list above. They include LinkedIn, Plaxo, and Twitter. I want to share a little about each of these website, and why I use them.
LinkedIn is a social networking website dedicated to developing professional relationships, and currently has over 25 million members. Basic membership is free, and allows you to create a profile (essentially a resume) that can be shared with the public, and also allows you to link with others who you have some direct relationship with, such as a friend or business acquaintance. LinkinIn can be used to find new clients, service providers, subject matter experts, business opportunities, connect with industry insiders, ask questions, find a new job, find a job candidate for a new position, and much more. In addition, if you use the free Xobni add-in to Microsoft Outlook, Xobni can display information from LinkedIn profiles as part of your contacts list.
I use LinkedIn because it allows you to identify new contacts from your currently existing contacts. For example, I currently have 213 direct connections in LinkedIn. This are people who I have some sort of direct relationship. But because each of my direct connections have connections of their own, I am one connection away from about 25,000 other people, and two connections away from over 2 million people. So if I want to make a contact with someone who I am not directly connected with, all I have to do is to contact one of my direct connections and ask them if they would introduce me to the person who I want to meet, and so on. This allows me access to a huge number of people with an almost infinite variety of knowledge and interests.
You can see my LinkedIn profile at:
Plaxo started out as a service to help you automatically update your Outlook contacts list. For example, if a contact in my Outlook contacts list is also a Plaxo member, then if they change their contact information, then Plaxo (through an Outlook add-in) automatically update the information in my Outlook contact list. More recently, it has morphed into a business social networking website that offers many other features besides just keeping track of your contact’s address and other contact information. I use Plaxo mainly for its automatic contact update feature, but I also use it for my resume (similar to LinkedIn). It is just another way that people can find me.
You can see my Plaxo profile at:
Twitter is a somewhat odd social networking website. Essentially, it is a mini-blog that allows you to enter short (up to 140 characters) entries about what you are doing. Many people use it like a public diary, sharing their daily activities. Personally, I use it to promote myself, such as when I have blogged, written a new article, or spoken at a users group. As a Twitter member, you have the ability to follow others, and others can follow you. In other words, you develop a network of people who you are interested in and want to follow, and others who want to follow you.
You can see my Twitter feed at:
Should You Join a Social Networking Website?
Is social networking something you should do as a DBA? If you aren’t interested in promoting yourself or developing online contacts, or if you don’t have enough time to actively engage in social networking, then not participating won’t hurt your DBA career.
On the other hand, if you want to promote yourself and develop new contacts, and you have the time to participate, then do so. It’s a great way to not only stay in contact with your current network of friends, it is a great way to expand that network.
If you decide to participate, the hardest part is deciding which social networking websites best meet your needs. This will depend on you, and your interests. I suggest you check out multiple social networking websites and see what they have to offer. Start with one, and if you enjoy it, then expand and join several others. Each social networking website has its own pros and cons, and the more you join and engage in, the greater your ability to manage your on-line brand.