If you are a regular reader, you know I recommend using social media (Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) to enhance your network and expand your reach as a job seeker or entrepreneur. At a recent social event with other contributors and speakers for Social Media Atlanta’s HR and Recruiting track, I met Douglas Kling, (@DouglasKling), Director of Recruiting at HUNTER Technical Resources. He recommended I look at Quora.com, a network focused on asking and answering questions.
Quora calls itself “A continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it.” Their goal? “To have each question page become the best possible resource for someone who wants to know about the question.”
Crunchbase notes that Quora was founded in June 2009 and launched in private beta in January 2010:
“One way you can think of (Quora) is as a cache for the research that people do looking things up on the web and asking other people. Eventually, when you see a link to a question page on Quora, your feeling should be: “Oh, great! That’s going to have all the information I want about that.” It’s also a place where new stuff–that no one has written about yet–can get pulled onto the web.”
I found executive recruiter Harry Urschel’s new post in my Google reader while I was writing this post. Harry explains,
“…Quora is unique in the level of professional and expert responses you encounter. Ask a question regarding an Engineering challenge, and it’s not unlikely to get an answer from a Chief Engineer at Motorola or Intel. Ask a question regarding start-ups, and you’re likely to get a response from a Venture Capital expert. Ask questions about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or virtually any other successful site, and you’re just as likely to get an answer from a Senior Executive from one of those organizations as you are from a power user.”
Similar to LinkedIn’s Answers section, there are questions on Quora about a wide array of topics. For example, someone asked: “Are there metrics on how helpful it is to address a user by their first name for account/marketing emails?” One reply was from Ramit Sethi, a NYT bestselling author of I Will Teach You to be Rich.
You may ask a question to the community, or target it to a particular user. Like Twitter, you can choose to “follow” other users and you will have followers as well. When you sign up, Quora offers you the opportunity to link with your Twitter account, and it will automatically follow Quora members whom you follow on Twitter. I found a very small percentage of people I follow on Twitter were also on Quora right now.
How does a site like this help you? In general, it follows the same principle as other social media sites: sharing information and advice in your subject matter area helps you raise your profile. When you answer questions with good information and people begin to turn to you for advice, your digital footprint (how many people know about you online) increases. When more people know about you, your network grows and this improves your chances for learning about (and being recommended for) opportunities — both jobs and entrepreneurial ventures.
Harry noted that Google found his profile and answers and quickly indexed them (therefore indexing his expertise). Since many employers are Googling candidates, having another resource to showcase your knowledge, skills and abilities in your niche topic can be helpful. It’s also possible (as in any social networking site) to build a rapport with an expert or mentor, which may lead to opportunities to contribute to their projects and/or to meet in person.
As someone who has been using Quora for the past few months, Douglas confirms that it is a good use of time and an interesting use of social media. He explained,
“The format allows for interactive discussion amongst subject matter experts on an ever-growing variety of topics. But, it also levels the playing field between the known experts and the unknown experts. The platform allows heretofore unknown experts in a specific space to increase their digital footprint based on the actual quality of the information they provide.”
Check it out: Quora.com. If you sign up, be sure to look for me: http://www.quora.com/Miriam-Salpeter.