Jinfo BlogDiversify your business networking with these LinkedIn alternatives

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By Africa S. Hands

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Abstract

Just as Google isn’t the only search engine, YouTube isn’t the only source for online videos and Twitter isn’t the only option for microblogging, LinkedIn isn’t the only social networking source for business and professional interaction. The LinkedIn alternatives presented below may be just the ticket to diversifying your networking strategy.

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Professionals in all fields are often asked: “Are you on LinkedIn?” For many of us it’s standard professional practice to have a LinkedIn account. We exchange profile information at business and networking events. Our LinkedIn profile URL is featured alongside our Twitter profile name on the last slide of our presentations and in our email signatures. With over 150 million accounts, LinkedIn is an important professional networking site for communicating with colleagues, clients and potential clients.

Wikipedia lists a few additional open social networking sites for business and professional networking. This means we have some options. Just as Google isn’t the only search engine, YouTube isn’t the only source for online videos, and Twitter isn’t the only option for microblogging, LinkedIn isn’t the only social networking source for business and professional interaction.

Alternatives to LinkedIn

Talkbiznow isn’t just a social networking site for business professionals. This is a web-based business community providing business services to professionals and small businesses. Going beyond helping professionals connect with one another and recruit potential employees, the laundry list of business services offered by Talkbiznow includes blogs, reports generated from your services within Talkbiznow, calendar, chat, an integrated email campaign tool, and webinar functionality with polls, chat and slides. Talkbiznow is rather all-encompassing, integrating with Twitter and Facebook for networking outside of the Talkbiznow wall.

For quality-controlled access to industry thought leaders and practitioners check out Focus. On this B2B business networking platform, you can have free access to Focus Experts – individuals with subject matter expertise, strong connections and a willingness to help other professionals. The top five topics based on contributions are information technology, marketing, sales, human resources and small business. Focus is more intense than LinkedIn Answers in that members’ contributions are rated for quality and members earn points for their contributions – an indication of how valuable members found the contributions. Member contributions are also voted up or down which helps maintain the quality of the site.

Viadeo is an European social networking site for professionals. Available in seven languages, Viadeo is very similar to LinkedIn in that it offers groups, event and job postings, and a question and answer section covering topics such as business operations, financial markets and computer-telecom-internet. Each section has subsections for more specialisation. Over 500,000 jobs are posted on Viadeo and, unlike LinkedIn, users may also post classified ads for housing, equipment and other items. With 40 million professionals worldwide, Viadeo could be a viable alternative. Cross-check it with your LinkedIn contacts by importing your address book to find connections.

Old school still best strategy for some

Even with emerging technology and networking websites at our fingertips, some companies still opt to connect the old-fashioned way – face-to-face. When it comes to connecting with customers, 77% of Canadian business managers prefer in-person contact according to a recent survey. This is a slight decrease from previous years, although still a pretty large percentage. Create a diverse strategy using multiple methods of online and offline interaction.

How to branch out from LinkedIn

  • Explore the social networks above searching for your topic of interest and location.
  • Ask your in-person network where they network online. You may find an industry-specific or niche online community.
  • Lurk and learn before diving into any online community to get a feel for how it works and how members interact.

There is no shortage of methods that we may employ to get our message across to a wide audience. The LinkedIn alternatives presented above may be just the ticket to diversify your networking strategy.

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