12 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn
According to John Bennett, director of the Master of Science and executive coaching and assistant professor of behavioral science at the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte,“between 60-80% of jobs are found through personal relationships.” That’s why it’s important to cast a wide net and network as mush as possible through organizations like college alumni associations, business fraternities, and industry events.
Of course, there are also plenty of networking opportunities online through sites like Quora and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. But when it comes to networking professionally online, the go-to site is LinkedIn.
Since 2002, LinkedIn has become the world’s largest online professional networking site with over 380 million members in over 200 countries and territories. And while LinkedIn has proven to be an incredible assist for anyone looking to make professional connections or find employment, there have been some concerns.
For starters, the company has been forced to reduce the number of emails it sends out because of complaints. There have also been allegations of the company hacking into member’s emails and a concern that activity on LinkedIn groups are declining.
That doesn’t mean that you should give up on LinkedIn. Despite any concerns with the network, it still remains one of the best locations to network professionally. It just means that in addition to LinkedIn you should also start networking on other professional sites to cast that wide net that was previously mentioned.
I previously shared eight alternatives to LinkedIn like Twylah, Opprtunity, PartnerUp, VisualCV, Meetup, Zerply, AngelList, and BranchOut, but here are twelve more networking sites that you should also consider using in no particular order.
The easiest way to describe Makerbase is as an IMDb for individuals who make software, such as apps and websites. It was launched earlier this year by ThinkUp’s founders – Lifehacker founding editor Gina Trapani and entrepreneur Anil Dash. It’s is free to join by using a Twitter account, however, anyone can view the content on the site. Essentially, this network of creatives can use Makerbase to list all of the projects that they’ve previously worked on and not by overlooked by the company that they worked for. For example, there’s a list of names of the people who worked on the retired Google Reader.
Anyone searching for a coder could then use Makerbase to identify talented coders, logo designers, or anyone involved with PR. One promising feature is that Makerbase is editable, which means you can add the names and descriptions of any makers who assisted with a project.
This iOS app was influenced by the book “Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time” by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz. It also uses LinkedIn’s API so that you can schedule impromptu lunch meetings with your LinkedIn contacts in order to create meaningful face-to relationships. However, you can also search for other local professionals who have available time slots for a lunch meeting.
The app is pretty simple to use. Just sing-in with your LinkedIn account and select the times that you’re free to meet for lunch. The app then uses your current location to suggest local restaurants on a map where you can meet. Hopefully, you can find a professional or get contacted by someone on your area to discuss business over lunch or a cup of coffee.
Founded in 2003, Xing is a serious European competitor to LinkedIn where you can find jobs, partners, advice, or list an opening in your business. In fact, Xing boasts that it’s the largest business network in German-speaking countries and has more than 14 million members. However, Xing is also used by professionals in over 200 countries and is available in the following languages: English, German, Dutch, Finnish, Swedish, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese, and Turkish.
The basic membership is free but to have access to features like searching for people with specific qualifications, business book summaries, and travel discounts can only be accessed by those with a premium membership. Other features included in the platform are a directory of professional profiles, discussion forums, and event coordination. While Xing may not overtake LinkedIn, it’s a great option if you reside or do work overseas.
Launched in 2002 by Napster co-founder Sean Parker, Plaxo is an online address book that will automatically update, synchronize, recover, and unify your contacts. Because Plaxo is a cloud-based platform, it keeps track of your contacts so you don’t have to worry about constantly updating your address book manually. Whenever a contact updates their information, the changes will appear in your address book. Another interesting feature that Plaxo provides is the ability to list the connections between contacts so that your contacts are organized and easy to manage. Plaxo can also sync your calendar and send out birthday reminders.
Plaxo offers a free basic version, but if you’re looking for additional features, Plaxo has plans that start at $4.95 per month.
Beyond.com proudly calls itself “The Career Network,” and it’s hard to go against that statement. Since 1998 Beyond.com has connected more than 45 million professionals with a wide-range of companies involved in the technology, healthcare, business, and marketing industries. Overall, it’s expansive network includes over 500 organized talent communities. Job searchers can locate open positions by industry and location to help narrow down the search. There’s also informative content like the industries with the highest-paying salaries, infographics, and advice from more than 1,400 sources.
You can also use Beyond.com to build professional connections, showcase your portfolio, and even have an account created for you just by sending in your resume. A basic membership is free, but for $24.99 per month, a premium membership will allow you to access full company profiles, become a featured applicant, and view the more than 200,000 job listings on Twitter.
6. Data.com Connect
Unlike almost every other networking site, Salesforce’s Data.com Connect provides both the phone number and email address of companies listed in its business directory. It even goes a step further and provides up-to-date contact information for individuals in any company and within any department from staff to C-suite executives. You can also search the directory by individual, company, or industry so you can start connecting with the professionals in your specific industry or location.
You can join Data.com Connect for free, but you’ll be limited to giving one contact in exchange for one. For more contacts, pricing begins at $250 per year.
Sumry was publicly launched in 2014 and is a web app that builds online resumes and portfolios. What makes Sumry unique is it highlights your education, certifications, skills, work experience, and even testimonials from people you have worked with in the past in a full timeline, as opposed to just another resume. This not only gives professionals and companies a glimpse into who you are as an individual, it also makes it easier from them to digest and offers a chance to introduce yourself prior to officially submitting an application. When you do spot a position that interests you, just apply with just one-click, create a custom cover letter, and Sumry will send a link to your profile and PDF of your resume.
There is a free version of Sumry, but if you want to be able to introduce yourself to potential employers or contacts, then you’ll have to purchase Sumry Pro for $7 per month.
Although Jobcase has been powering more than 100 job sites since 2009, it didn’t enter the social media networking scene until 2015 as a way to ask questions or join groups relevant to your industry. The site allows you to create a comprehensive profile that describes not only your education and experience, but also your preferred salary, work conditions, personal traits, and whether or not you’d be willing to relocate. Because Jobcase has information from over 100 existing job-listing websites like Indeed and CareerBuilder, you have more access to employers and connections then you would on LinkedIn. Jobcase also employs MIT data scientists you can assist you with discovering the information that is most relevant to you.
You can sign up for Jobcase for free or simply login by using your Facebook, Google, or LinkedIn account.
Founded in 2008, EFactor has become the world’s largest entrepreneurial community where members have access to both online and offline access to the people, tools, and resources to make meaningful connections. Through social networking and in-person events, members can connect with potential partners and clients. EFactor provides information that can help entrepreneurs reduce business costs, learn how to pitch their ideas, and create a business plan. With more than one million members in 222 territories and across 240 industries you shouldn’t have any problems meeting the right connection for your startup.
Membership to EFactor is free. You can sign up with your Facebook or LinkedIn account.
Bark launched in 2014 and helps matches member to local businesses. If you’re looking for an accountant, lawyer, or plumber you don’t have to spend hours searching for professionals in your area since Bark will contact these service providers for you and even give you an estimate. While this is a great way to discover local service providers for your business, you can create a profile so that customers can hire you as well. You could also use Bark to connect with local professionals in your related industry.
You can use the Bark Directory by creating a free account. With an upgrade to the pro version, Bark will advertise your business immediately.
Founded by Stanford University in 2005, Doostang is an online career networking community that can help members locate career opportunities in finance, consulting, technology, media, and entertainment. This is achieved through a social network of personal and college alumni connections. Whenever one of these contacts has a connection to a job opportunity, Doostang will inform you. Besides searching for career opportunities by location or industry, Doostang also has features like expert resume reviews. There are currently one million professionals networking on Doostang.
The free plan allows members to search for jobs by community members or recruiters and network with other members, but you can only apply for one job. To apply for more job openings, you’ll have to select a premium plan that starts at $9.95.
Since 2013, LocalsNetworking has provided a platform for members to build their own referral network in their community. As a member, you can select the local businesses or individuals that you want to network with, schedule a meeting, or just communicate with other community members. For example, if you’re a contractor, you could use LocalsNetworking to build relationships with professionals relevant to your field, such as landscapers, plumbers, electricians, or pavers. You can even create or join groups that are either location or industry based.
You can sign up for LocalsNetworking for free and there are no membership fees or attendance policies.
Despite LinkedIn being the largest professional networking in the world, there are plenty of other networking options to help you make meaningful connections. In fact, some of these alternatives may be more helpful than LinkedIn because they focus on creating more professional connections based on your location or niche.