Social media has integrated itself into everything. It connects people from all over the world, catalyzing revolutions, as well as influencing our behavior and preferences. With a myriad of consumer-oriented social media sites, the possibilities to engage, connect and interact are inexhaustible. However, when it comes to professional networking, do you ever wonder what we can do to expand or fully leverage our one primary social networking platform?
With 690+ million active users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, LinkedIn is the quintessential professional networking site. However, with so many active users, networking–along with creating real relationships and trust to advance your professional goals–is not always easy. Moreover, your content is not always personal, and your feed is not always hyper-relevant or tailored to your professional needs. The ratio of spammers to non-spammers often seems to be increasing, and the quality of your connections seems to be decreasing.
While LinkedIn is a great platform to connect with your coworkers and acquaintances, it has some weaknesses, just like any social network. To make the most out of your virtual professional networking, EdCast’s Spark, the world’s leading professional skills and networking platform, can add strategic value. If you want to take your professional networking to another level, there are a number of reasons why every LinkedIn user should consider Spark as an add-on.
First, some background on Spark: Spark is EdCast’s market-leading Learning Experience Platform (LXP) for SMBs and individuals to enable remote upskilling, lifelong learning and insights-led networking with experts. SMB employers are able to use Spark to train, onboard, upskill and reskill employees in consistent and measurable ways, throughout their business, even among highly distributed or remote work teams. With Spark, employees have access to thousands of skills and subjects associated with formal badges and certifications they can earn (and share) on topics that are important to the employer and/or the employee, ranging from Cybersecurity to Data & Analytics to Health & Wellness. Available online and as a mobile application, Spark can be accessed on all major digital platforms — Google Search, O365, MS Teams, GSuite, Facebook Workplace, Salesforce — and has been shown to drive significant increases in productivity and capability development across the SMB organization.
Spark is also ideal for individual employees and professional users, and they can benefit in a number of ways:
1. Earn badges & learn from experts to promote your professional development
Badges are an excellent tool to showcase your professional achievements, new skills, and certifications. While an update on your profile might occasionally appear on someone’s feed — or get lost in an avalanche of feed updates, a badge is a permanent feature on your profile to get your learning recognized and offer tangible evidence to future employers. On Spark, you can earn digital badges verified by industry leaders that prove your mastery over a course, skill or certification. You can share and add these badges on your LinkedIn profile and ensure people notice your newly-acquired skill or achievement.
In addition to earning badges, Spark features a number of professional HR, learning and upskilling experts that you can follow, interact with and learn from. We call this group Experts on Spark. Included in this group of experts are Josh Bersin (follow him here), Fosway’s Fiona Leteney (here), Craig Weiss (here), Ana Soler (here), Jason Averbrook (here) and more than a dozen others.
2. Personalized content for your feed based on Goals
Your feed on LinkedIn predominantly consists of what your connections share and is optimized for brand ads and maximum engagement. On the other hand, EdCast’s Spark has developed a personalization engine that uses a combination of machine learning and your professional skills and experience to offer a highly customized experience based on your learning goals. Your feed on Spark is tailored for you, a refreshing change to endless feeds. You can organize content by topics into channels to easily focus your learning experience. You can also customize the layout and the look and feel of the platform, putting you in complete charge of your feed. This greatly reduces clutter on your home page and gives you more time to focus on the content relevant to your profession and skills.
3. Build your Skills Passport & Gain your Skill of the Month
Just like a passport that allows you to travel outside your country and keep a tab on your trips, Spark’s Skills Passport is a handy skill directory to explore thousands of jobs and skill sets. You can manage all your skills and certifications using this passport that aggregates transcripts of all completed badges, content, assignment, and skill areas. And during a time when most of us are stuck at home with no travel plans in the immediate future, the Skills Passport might be even more useful and important to have in the short-term than your regular passport.
At EdCast, we have just launched our Spark Skill of the Month initiative by which individuals can gain mastery in a selected professional segment during a given month, thereby earning a badge and gaining a valued skill. The Skill of the Month for August is AI. The Spark Skills of the Month for September and October are Data Analytics and Design Thinking respectively.
4. Post audio content
Audio content is different from video and text content because it is so easy for someone to interact with and incorporate into their day-to-day routine. While podcasts may be one of the most popular audio content types, they are not the only way to interact using audio. During a time when most conferences, round tables, and events are canceled due to the global pandemic, audio content offers a great opportunity for you to connect, put forth your professional know-how, and increase your networking opportunities. Treat your audio appearances as far-reaching opportunities — landing a guest spot on a podcast is like presenting/speaking at a trade show! Since audio is proven to help people feel connected and people crave that even more than usual while being cooped up at home, consumption of this format of content will only be going up from here. On Spark, you can easily upload your audio content, be it podcast or audiobook.
Optimizing your online professional networking with Spark by EdCast can allow you to increase your chances to make more meaningful connections and augment your professional development. In fact, since Spark offers a tailored experience based on your particular niche and skills, it could be a very helpful alternative for people who are keen on creating more professional connections. We are big believer in eating our own dog-food, and so you will find tha
t all my colleagues at EdCast worldwide are on Spark daily as our internal knowledge-sharing, employee-experience use-cases, upskilling and lifelong learning app.
The Spark by EdCast app is available to download on Google Play Store and App Store, and can be accessed on the Web from any browser at https://spark.edcast.com/.