It’s time to look at another popular social media tool and how it can be used in elections and political campaigns: LinkedIn, which is a networking site that connects people with similar careers and resumes. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, however, it takes a bit more planning and work to use LinkedIn for candidates and campaigning purposes.
While Twitter and Facebook help acquaintances, family members and friends connect and share, LinkedIn is a better tool for networking with professional acquaintances and co-workers. It is a great place to share your resume, keep updated on news and events within your particular industry, and establish contacts for furthering your career.
Because LinkedIn is a more professional social networking tool than Facebook or Twitter, it is a bit more difficult to establish contacts with people and become a part of their network. LinkedIn requires you to specify exactly how you know someone when you invite them to join your network, and it discourages people to connect with the service unless they personally know each other.
Because of this, LinkedIn probably isn’t the best social networking tool for a political candidate to use when trying to connect with the average voter or supporter. While you can create LinkedIn groups for users to become members of, it doesn’t lend itself well to political campaigning.
Still, LinkedIn can help a political candidate keep in touch with valuable professional acquaintances who might be willing to offer recommendations, advice, introductions and even campaign contributions.
While Twitter accounts and Facebook fan pages can gain followers quickly, LinkedIn accounts tend to need much more time and attention to cultivate. Simply starting a LinkedIn page a few months before an election probably won’t be of much benefit to a political candidate.
Instead, try opening a LinkedIn account far in advance of deciding whether you are going to run for office or not, and start making contacts. Use the service to network with professional acquaintances and co-workers, and you will gradually start to see your network membership grow.
Even if LinkedIn doesn’t end up playing a significant role in rallying support for your campaign, it’s still a good idea to start an account and get familiar with the website. As someone who is interested in public service, your LinkedIn account is sure to come in handy in the future.