LinkedIn is excellent for increasing one’s visibility, building one’s credibility, and powering up one’s self-marketing efforts while connecting with employers, clients, and many other parties.
However, depending too much on LinkedIn is like “putting all your eggs in one basket”, and the more LinkedIn dominates the professional networking space, the more we’ll all have to play by LinkedIn’s rules.
Fortunately, many LinkedIn alternatives exist, and some of them may actually benefit you more:
1. Facebook, with its gargantuan subscriber base, isn’t just for socializing; it’s also a great place to set up a business page.
2. Twitter, a powerful tool for real-time, highly targeted business communications, is becoming increasingly integrated with other social media communities. Click here to learn more about how use Twitter for your business needs.
3. Pinterest has become far more than just a hobby and vacation-oriented bulletin board; it’s now a great place for sharing content that can benefit your clients and employers.
4. Instagram is the go-to site for sharing photographs. Click here for more about how you can use it for business.
5. YouTube is excellent for sharing video content, and verticalresponse has published a great article on how to get your portfolio up and running.
6. SlideShare is the world’s most popular document and presentation-sharing website. wishpond technologies has put together a good introductory presentation on why it’s so important.
7. BranchOut enables you to use Facebook for professional networking, and it actually has about double the number of searchable profiles (800+ million, as of this writing) that LinkedIn does. With a mission to “connect the world’s professionals”, BranchOut is clearly positioned to challenge LinkedIn.
8. Opprtunity is quite different from LinkedIn; it helps you to make valuable connections with people who are not already in your network, so you might find it a helpful addition to (rather than substitute for) LinkedIn.
9. Meetup is an activity-based social network that has many business-oriented groups.
10. Twylah enables you to harness the power of Twitter to build your brand online.
12. Zerply is great for networking if you’re in the entertainment or gaming industries, and you can build an online showcase portfolio.
13. NetParty, geared more towards young professionals, is a refreshing alternative to LinkedIn because of its emphasis on having fun while networking.
14. Your very own business blog can become a powerful mechanism for sharing your knowledge. The most popular and reliable method is WordPress, either WordPress.COM (which is relatively hassle-free option but offers limited functionality) and WordPress.ORG (which is more powerful but must be self-hosted and requires more maintenance).
With so many LinkedIn alternatives out there, how can you be sure to choose the best ones? TheNextWeb and Get Susan have good articles on business-oriented social media platforms (and they profile a few sites that I haven’t mentioned here), and Inc. has some good suggestions as well.
So check out a few of these other communities! You’ll gather more options for extending your professional reach, you won’t be roped in to LinkedIn, and you’ll have a more interesting time managing your social media campaign.
Paul Raworth Bennett (Founder and Principal of NOVA Career Strategies) is a résumé expert, LinkedIn consultant, and Reach-certified Personal Branding Strategist (who was lucky enough to have Susan Chritton and Kirsten Vernon as his instructors). If you want to star in your own career, Paul would be happy to connect with you via the NOVA Career Strategies website, his Twitter account, or through his LinkedIn page.