Quora.com …you probably haven't heard of it. It's still relatively early in its growth. However, I believe it will become very significant and it can be a great place to learn, contribute, and gain knowledge and valuable exposure in your job search.
What is it? It's a site developed by former Facebook executives. According to their own "About" page:
"Quora is a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it."
While there are other sites that essentially do the same thing… Yahoo! Answers, for example, I believe 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.
Questions are asked about virtually any topic under the sun. However, at least so far, questions lean toward professional, and business oriented topics.
So… Great… but what's that got to do with your job search? Here's what:
It's a great place to see… Have questions about trends or changes in your field or industry as you pursue opportunities? Have questions about a specific company you are pursuing? Want to know which of your skills are of most interest to hiring managers? Here's the place to ask and get truly expert answers.
…and be seen! Do you have knowledge or expertise in topics that could be of value to others? Scroll through open questions by others under relevant topics to your knowledge and give answers as well. With each answer you give, you build credibility among others and enhance your overall online reputation.
Google loves it! In your job search today, it is highly likely that somewhere in a hiring process, someone at the company you are pursuing will Google your name to see what they find. It's critical to guard your online reputation. Will they find drunken pictures of you on MySpace? Better… find expert answers you've given on Quora related to your field. I'm certainly no Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert, however, I noticed that my Quora profile and answers began appearing very quickly on my Google search results. Whether or not you already write a professional blog to enhance your online reputation, this is another way to improve it quickly.
Quora vs. Twitter I'm already professionally active on Twitter, what's the difference? There are a couple of significant differences where Quora can be a great addition to your Twitter activity. Twitter limits your posts to 140 characters. As much as that makes you concise… it's difficult to convey complex ideas in that space. You may link out to an external article, IF you have a blog or other site you write. However, Quora allows you the space to give your response in full, AND, you can link that response in a "Tweet" on Twitter. Secondly, although there is a lot of professional activity that takes place on Twitter, the predominant reputation of Twitter is of fluff and as a time-waster. Quora, at least so far, has a far more professional reputation, and your input there is likely to be more highly regarded (think… MySpace vs. LinkedIn).
The site is not extremely intuitive… at least for me. It can be somewhat difficult to figure out how to find things and how to get plugged in. The HELP sections are useful. However, it's definitely worth taking the time and figuring it out in order to become active on the site.
Check it out… and get plugged in. It can be a tremendous resource for you professionally and in your job search!