Plante & Moran Puts Social Networking on its Training Agenda

Southfield, Mich.-based Plante & Moran (FY09 net revenue of $302 million) has added a trendy new topic to its orientation agenda for entry-level practice staff: Leveraging LinkedIn: Tips to Better Utilize Social Networking Tools.

With 35% Millennials, P&M’s staff demographic is highly unusual outside of the profession. It’s highly desirable too, according to human resource executive, which included P&M on its list of “18 Great Companies for Millennials.” But while this age group tends to be far more Internet proficient than other demographics, their background involves the use of social networking sites such as Facebook to share personal stories, photos and invitations, and not for establishing business connections.

Jeff Antaya, P&M’s Chief Marketing Officer and the LinkedIn course instructor, says the impetus for the course was to teach basic business development skills in a medium that Millennials understand.

“Our entry level audit and tax hires are web savvy but tend to be new to the business world; most have not considered how social networking sites like LinkedIn can be used for building business relationships, referral sources and new business opportunities,” says Antaya.

Antaya notes the LinkedIn course content includes getting started, connecting with others, microblogging with LinkedIn, LinkedIn etiquette, and maximizing LinkedIn capabilities like creating groups and performing advanced searches. He adds that the firm does have guidelines for staff using LinkedIn.

“We consider any comments connected with a staff member’s professional status to be publishing by the firm and are subject to the same review procedures as traditional print publishing, although no concerns have arisen yet,” confirms Antaya.

Jon Strycharz, who joined P&M in January, 2009, following two internships and just completed his LinkedIn session in June, was pleased to discover the advantages of using LinkedIn.

“I think that using LinkedIn will make actual face to face meetings with new business sources much easier for me because I will have already learned some of the ins and outs of business networking in a pretty risk-free online environment,” says Strycharz.

“Each generation is learning from the other. The boomers have not only experience-based wisdom and skills to share, but tried and true business development skills. The younger generation brings a new approach to business using its facility for technology-based systems and solutions. Collectively, we are building the firm for tomorrow and ensuring that clients are the ultimate benefactors,” concludes Antaya.