May 19th 2010
The New Jersey Society of CPAs has added a social networking site so its members can meet online, seek out colleagues, and form discussion groups.
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The site, NJSCPA Connect, already contains the business and contact information of its 15,500 members, but members can supplement their profile page with a photo, bio, interests, and other information. Groups of members can form communities based on interests, committee involvement, or any other grouping, according to the society. Another feature is a group discussion forum, called eGroups, to facilitate communication among community members online and by e-mail.
The site launched on May 10 and in the first week, 686 individuals had logged on, according to Rachael Bell, NJSCPA online communications manager.
NJSCPA officials said the society is no newcomer to social media, and that it has been fairly aggressive in making its presence known on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. NJSCPA Connect, however, integrates the membership database with the social media platform. The membership information is pre-populated on the site so members don’t have to create their profile from scratch, Bell said. The site also eases communication among members by replacing several list serves that “got the job done,” but weren’t easy to use, Bell said. New e-mail addresses had to be entered manually, for example.
“For a member who is already involved with our committees and interest groups, they’re going to find the process of being involved in those groups much easier now,” Bell said. “It’s visually more user-friendly, technologically more user-friendly, and there’s a searchable archive of past messages and documents that have been posted.”
Bell said she envisions these communities growing and becoming more active. The society formed a community of professionals who were registered to attend a recent accounting business and technology event, for example, with conference materials posted directly to the NJSCPA Connect site for download rather than handing out paper copies.
The homepage of the site includes announcements, the latest discussions, professional news, upcoming events, and a list of most engaged members, which is determined by those who are most actively using the site.
“What we’re really hoping to find, and I’m already seeing this, is names that we don’t recognize, people who are not on our radar screen,” Bell said.
The site also includes a function that allows member searches not only by name or company, but also by interests, or any number of demographic factors.
“What you can search by is unbelievable,” Bell said. “Let’s say you want to find a CPA in Bergen County to fill out your foursome for a golf match. You can find a golfing enthusiast through the Connect site,” she said. Making business referrals to other CPAs also is much easier through the more sophisticated search function.
Bell said the society plans to maintain its presence on other social networking sites, as they provide an introduction to potential new members, but NJSCPA Connect is another way for members to communicate with one another. Enthusiastic members are reaching out to others by making connect requests, similar to LinkedIn, to add contacts.
Questions about the site can be directed to Bell at firstname.lastname@example.org or (973) 226-4494, ext. 220.