LinkedIn is definitely the top networking option for professionals across industries.
While its sheer size and reach have revolutionized how we connect and interact with each other, it is not entirely without drawbacks.
To begin with, the size of the platform often results in impersonal feed and not-so-relevant content. The spammers vs quality connections ratio is also a point of concern for most professionals on the platform.
Perhaps the biggest gripe of professionals about LinkedIn is that it is neither private nor exclusive. On the one hand, having a public profile will result in your whole employment and academic history along with your contact information (social media, email, phone no. etc.) being displayed publicly. On the other hand, if you go private, it will defeat the whole purpose. The high costs of going ‘premium’ are also a deterrent for job seekers and freshers. Additionally, it is a bit in your face and blatant about networking with very little socialising – so might feel a bit too aggressive and intimidating.
Definitely, the relevance of LinkedIn cannot be denied in spite of these bottlenecks. LinkedIn is still the B2B gold mine with 260 million active users and 40 million decision makers, and it is the most used social media platform among Fortune 500 companies.
But you also need to be mindful of an entire generation of professionals who are looking for networking opportunities that feel natural, fun and are in-line with new age work philosophy. So, it will serve you well to explore other alternatives and engage on a couple of emerging networking platforms along with your LinkedIn interactions.
Are looking to have such a holistic approach to professional networking?
Do you want to explore new and innovative platforms that can revitalize your business’s networking outreach?
Then, here are 5 online networking platforms that you must explore asap –
- Meetup –
Meetup is the networking platform focused on creating real-life networking opportunities. It basically brings people together – there are constant updates about new and fun meet-ups which helps you connect with like-minded professionals.
This location-based app provides the platform for managing in-person meeting groups. On Meetup, you can join as well as create a group which interest you and plan and then organise a meetup. Apart from the professional and B2B events, Meetups also has an extensive database of events across different industries and categories. You can also find opportunities to connect with people at off-work events and bond over common interests. The platform does raise safety issues and privacy concerns if you link your social media profiles with the Meetup profile. If you are frequently hosting networking events, you will do well to go pro in order to create branded experiences that help you generate networking and sponsorship opportunities.
2. Opportunity –
Dubbed as the ‘professional matchmaker’, Opportunity is a discovery network that brings professionals together based on a real opportunity to do business.
Opportunity serves three major categories of networking functions – discovering sales leads, job search/recruitment, and relationship building. The platform uses its algorithm to find professionals that are on the lookout for your product, service, skills, and experience. Then they are proactively suggested as you, rather than you spending valuable time looking through the contacts. Opportunity focuses on generating new potential connections rather than expanding the existing networks. So, it is ideal for people who either do not have an already existing network or are trying to break into a new industry. It is better suited for localized or geo-specific businesses and might not be best adapted for global ones.
3. CommunityZapp –
CommunityZapp is a unique platform that facilitates all round business networking without compromising on personalization and privacy. You can not only join an existing community but also create an invite-only community for exclusive networking among your colleagues, clients, and vendors.
To begin with, the deep search tools of CommunityZapp can be used to find people from a specific city, industry, or function. Then, you can connect with them on private messages for locking in collaborations, partnerships, and mentoring. The events section of the platform helps you with recommendations of best industry events or publicize your own events to a niche audience and do some real-life networking. The dedicated job boards and job communities of the platform are also handy for both job-search and recruitment. Apart from joining your industry-specific or professional community, you can also check out other professional communities (engineers, marketing professionals, event managers, graphic designers etc.) and location based communities (Bangalore professionals, Chennai IT professionals etc.) in order to expand your network. If you are looking for opportunities for networking beyond work, the hobby/interest communities (yoga, spirituality, sports, travel, humour etc.) are a good place to get started.
4. Gust –
Gust is a global investor-relation platform for startups and investors. It connects angel investors with entrepreneurs and provides the space for making connections before closing the deals offline.
On Gust, entrepreneurs and founders create a profile and upload confidential investor information (business plan, executive summary, business model, capital structure and financials) and choose its visibility to the particular class of investors that they want to attract. Investors and founders can use the Gust tools to connect with each other, set up meetings and manage their deals. A unique feature of Gust is that it does not review company profiles and curate the profiles given to the investors but does provide data filters that the investors can employ to screen the profiles. Apart from funding, Gust has several pricing packages that provides services ranging from incorporation support, financial tools, legal counsel, equity management, revenue and payroll accounting etc.
5. Bumble bizz –
Billed as the networking app with a feminist twist, Bumble bizz is the business-focused version of the Bumble dating app. It stands out among the women-friendly networking apps with its ladies-first approach and behaviour monitoring algorithm that weeds out spam and jerks.
Bumble bizz lets you add verified photos, digital resumes, work portfolio, and a skills section along with specifying whether you are looking to mentor, to partner, to invest. Then, you will be looking through such profile and swipe right on the profiles that interest you. And the woman gets to make the first move once a match is found. Bizz presents the option of filtering how far away a match is, the experience they have, or which industry they’re part of – resulting in high-value potential matches. The platform incorporates geolocation – so it is handy for finding local professionals and collaborators. One drawback of Bumble bizz is that it is a networking focused app and not exactly adaptable effectively for job search and recruiting.
By adding a few specialized platforms to generalized ones like LinkedIn, you will make your network highly customized and effective. Having such a mix might just give you the edge that you need to discover the right mentors and partners with minimum trial and error, along with huge savings on time and money.
If you are looking for a more focused, personalized, and industry-specific networking platform to invigorate your professional/business network, check out CommunityZapp today.