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The Social BA: 5 Reasons to get Active Online

By Cathy Cecere, Marketing Manager, Doreen Evans Associates, Inc.

Business analysts who are self-avowed social media enthusiasts will tell you that being part of a large, online community where help is only a click away is worth the time and effort. In fact, these professionals suggest that the only problem with a bit of scanning, reading, clicking, or posting on LinkedIn and Twitter every day is finding the time in a busy BA’s schedule.

Yet even the BA who is the most fanatical fan of social media admits that the endeavor has the potential to be very addictive. And upper management often looks at virtual networks with one eye on the clock and another on the purse strings.  Yet most executives are coming to the realization that social sites are here to stay.

The BA Benefit of Being Online

What are the benefits to BAs who spend time on these sites? Senior Business Analyst Amirudapriya Balakumar says she has always believed that a “cumulative brain/thought process” is greater than the 
knowledge held by one person. She looks toward LinkedIn for enhanced knowledge and awareness. Business Analyst Peter Measures agrees, “I really enjoy having my perspective on the profession challenged on LinkedIn. It is a really useful learning tool.”
 
Having your professional convictions confirmed or questioned, thereby helping you grow as a BA, is a great reason to become part of an active, online community, but there are at least five additional reasons BAs should consider joining other BAs online:

1. Re-engage. One of the greatest, but often overlooked, benefits of social media for BAs is that they become re-engaged with the profession they love. Quite simply, when you’re able to socialize with others who are performing the same work and facing the same challenges, you become re-energized.  Each and every day I hear from BAs who are sharing ideas, attending classes or webinars, speaking at events or networking at meetings. Who can read these updates and not be inspired to do the same?

2. Share. There are many BAs who work as solo practitioners at small organizations and for them a virtual community can be a lifeline where they are able to brag or vent without limits. When this tweet went out, “You know you’re a BA when…” Business Analyst Sarah Entwistle tweeted back  “…you have your head in your hands.” Because there are times when only another BA understands what you are going through, it’s good to know you are always able to go on LinkedIn and ask an old colleague for advice, post a question on a BA group, or shout out a quick query on Twitter. More often than not—and rather quickly—you are offered a needed template, linked to a helpful web page, sent a white paper or directed to someone who can offer more specific help.  

3. Keep up. There may be no single better way to stay in tune with the latest BA trends and strategies than online and with social media. There is a constant stream of links to web pages, white papers, articles, slides, templates and other resources—and it’s usually free. Yes, it often takes some doing to work through the “spam” and get to the information you need, but diligent BAs will join the LinkedIn groups that discuss topics that interest them most, follow those on Twitter with the best information, and search on hashtags that are the most helpful. (See below for some tips.)

4. Network. The fact that social media gives you a chance to interact with other BAs is undeniable. You can easily get to know those who face the same challenges and interact with others who can offer you career advice and personal opportunities. You have the ability to ask questions of experts, voice your disagreement with the status quo and, perhaps, influence the future of your profession. 

5. Find employment. Of course, social media allows you to talk with recruiters and hiring managers who are looking for professionals like you. Jobs and other opportunities are posted daily. Just ask Senior Business Analyst Debra Bambridge who is a recent convert to LinkedIn and freely admits she snagged an interview because of her online affiliation with a respected professional.

 
Comraderie Amid Chaos 

There are many groups that exist on LinkedIn and the landscape can seem chaotic. But there are ways to narrow your options and find useful discussions. The first step is to search “Business Analysis” under “Groups.” The results will show the name of each group, as well as the size and how active the group is. They’ll also tell you who in your network is a member of the group and you can further filter your search from there. Here are some popular groups to consider starting with: 
Twitter users do not have groups to join. BAs on this site follow those who offer them the information they need—@IIBA (the official Twitter account of the IIBA) and @BABOK (previously the official Twitter account of IIBA) and @IIBA_Boston for example—and use hashtags to further filter the content they see. You can search on any keyword preceded with a hashtag. According to a recent poll of BAs on Twitter, the following hashtags help BAs keep up with the most relevant industry posts:
  • #BAOT or #baot (business analysts on twitter)
  • #rqmnts (requirements) or #requirements
  • #IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis)
  • #businessanalysis 
  • #businessanalyst (primarily for job hunters)
  • #BABOK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge)
  • #CBAP (Certified Business Analysis Professional)


Cathy Cecere is a Marketing Manager with Doreen Evans Associates, Inc. (DEA), a professional services firm committed to business analysis excellence. A recognized leader in the business analysis profession, DEA works with clients to improve business analysis practices and execute critical projects. Join DEA’s group on LinkedIn RequirementsFIRST and follow DEA on Twitter at @Requirements1st. You can reach Cathy at ccecere@doreenevans.com or simply call 781-482-4444.