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The best online platforms to help you network

Posted on 03 May 2023

The best online platforms to help you network

​8-minute read

Be it an employee or an employer, no matter your role inside a business, everyone knows the importance of effective networking. Over the years, more and more platforms have popped up, each offering it's own unique opportunity to connect with others within your industry allowing you to expand knowledge and prospects.

With so many to choose from, it can be a little difficult to determine where you should spend your time. As with any networking site, the more you put in, the more you will get out. We would advise testing each to get a better feeling about the communities on offer and time investment required before picking the right platforms for you to focus on.

In this article we want to give you a brief overview of several platforms alongside our own impressions. We will cover some that you are most likely aware of and others that might be new with the aim of offering you alternatives ways to network and grow your outreach.

 

LinkedIn

Overview: LinkedIn has over 830 million members worldwide offering employers and employees an abundance of networking opportunities locally and globally. Owned by Microsoft since 2016, LinkedIn has developed numerous services for advertising, sales and recruiting without losing its core element, individual membership subscriptions.

Our own impression: Probably one of if not the most recognisable professional networking platforms. A great tool for networking with like-minded peers, prospective employers, recruiters, and influencers. With the ability to connect to almost anyone once your network is large enough combined with the chance to test skills and create a highly comprehensive portfolio, it is one of the most used tools we use to network around.

As this is one of the most used platforms you might find that individuals you are interested in learning from might not use it as regularly, therefore your outreach might lay dormant for a while. Alongside this, groups tend to be very spammy with few learning opportunities and more job advertisements (from what we can see at least).

The free version will get you by, but it will take some time to really get the full benefit of the platform, therefore we would encourage you to opt for a paid version to help expand your potential search reach and therefore contact reach.

 

Clubhouse

Overview: Dubbed a social audio app,Clubhouse offers members the chance to discover ‘rooms’ where you can listen and share your thoughts on a specific topic. Right from the off, anyone can create their own room and host talks or jump right into a pre-existing one allowing you to start building connections quickly.

Our own impression: A very interesting application, utilising ‘invites’ to generate scarcity and create a real membership feel. Topics are varied in rooms, but we found that it was difficult to generate meaningful connections through the application unless rooms were more intimate.

It is a lot easier to join a room and consistently add to the conversation to grow a network that way as oppose to creating your own and starting from scratch, but the added benefit of starting your own is that long-term it can be a real opportunity maker for you if done correctly.

We feel it is far too early to say if Clubhouse will be a big success or not. So far, we have really enjoyed the talks we have participated in, but often found ourselves gravitating to another social application to make connections and expand the relationship further, in essence, Clubhouse introduced us to amazing people, but other applications allowed us to really connect with them.

 

Slack

Overview: Best known for a business tool that ‘transforms the way that you work with one place for everyone and everything that you need to get things done’, however, many likeminded groups use Slack to house their communities due to the very good ‘free’ version of the application (and because a lot of people already use it for work!).

Our own impression: We love Slack. Many channels we are part of have clearly outlined sub-channels to allow members to grow relationships easier either around generic talking points such as ‘introductions’ or to more specific niche points such as ‘React.js'.

As you can message directly through Slack, relationships can be fostered relatively quickly and expanded on either through video/voice chat or through another medium of choice.

The biggest drawback to Slack is the difficulty it is to find the right groups. Often, you need to be invited by contacts already in the channel and you likely will have cultivated a relationship with them on a different platform, therefore using Slack at the beginning might be more challenging than say LinkedIn but once in, networking opportunities are plentiful.

 

Instagram

Overview: So much more than a place to share photos of your food. Over the years Instagram has morphed into a platform for creators and businesses just as much for individual contributors. Using imagery in photographic of video format to showcase yourself is allowing for a much quicker form of social interaction.

Our own impression: Instagram will need to be a true labor of love. You can spend months if not years generating a small following only to have the algorithms of the platform change and what worked before doesn’t anymore. We would suggest you treat Instagram as a long game, connecting with fellow peers, commenting on their content and aiming to build a profile that is distributing good content with engaged and active users and over time you can then lean on these connections to grow opportunities for yourself.

If you are looking at jumping into Instagram as of 2023, then look most into reels with music attached, it appears to be the most generative of relevant followers as it competes with TikTok.

 

Xing

Overview: Mostly a DACH-targeted social platform like LinkedIn. Xing has grown to become a leading networking platform, bringing ideas seen in other applications to their own whilst adding unique features for themselves. Xing allows users to network through profile searching, apply to jobs, view detailed company records and find local events to socialise offline.

Our own impression: Xing is an excellent tool for anyone living or interested in living in the DACH region. Over time the platform might expand, but right now we feel this is the core target audience and who will benefit from it the most. Xing does come with restrictions, mostly in what you can do with the ‘basic’ profile. Searching capabilities are limited to a keyword or specific name, meaning your ability to network outside your core scope will be challenging unless you upgrade.

The good news on upgrading however is that it is relatively cheap compared to the likes of LinkedIn. With the upgrade, Xing becomes very powerful and with all the trimmings of what you expect from a social networking site (likes, shares comment etc.) it could help open up doors previously unseen elsewhere as we frequently find people on Xing who are only on Xing.

 

Meetup

Overview: Accessible now in over 400 countries, Meetup has been the ‘go-to’ for many when it comes to finding in-person networking events. With the ability to create your own Meetup or join an existing one, the application allows individuals to come together and share knowledge. With a limited message component, Meetup is far more of an in-person accompanying application than a social media site.

Our own impression: Meetup has been hit and miss for us. Creating your own Meetup takes a lot of time and energy in coordinating the event, however, it can be hugely successful leading to ample opportunities for growth professionally and personally, if this is something you’re interested in then we highly recommend doing it with others to share responsibilities.

Joining existing Meetups is great, however, if you only ever network through the messaging system then be prepared to be heavily disappointed as most Meetup profiles have very limited information on, making it almost impossible to identify who is genuine.

The trick lies in using Meetup for its core purpose. Finding local meetups for areas of interest, attending and building meaningful in person connections. Some of our best relationships spawned out of meet-ups, but it only really works if you are happy to put yourself out there.

 

The Dots

Overview: Another social application like LinkedIn and Xing that gives users the chance to share updates, connect with peers and find job opportunities. The Dots adds a unique feature where users can share specific ‘projects’ and tag others on the platform, with what we can see giving their profile more of a portfolio spin and removing the need for supporting CVs or websites when applying for new jobs.

Our own impression: We are yet to be convinced but then saying that the current user base appears to be out of what we focus mostly on as a recruiting company. Through our experimentation with the tool, the most beneficial market will be those in the UK within the creative space.

We did specifically like the simplicity of the ‘events’ section allowing users to join live events similar to meetup but with more online networking capabilities. The connection component is similar to what you are likely used to but the search bar is rather limited, even if you purchase pro features but there is a standout feature that groups people under similar titles allowing you to connect and network with ‘Trailblazing women’ or ‘Black leaders’ and form connections that way.

 

The purpose of this article as mentioned was to give an overview and some of our impressions of having used all of these tools for networking purposes. There is no one size fits all platform to use and there are plenty more we haven’t mentioned, but we hope that by sharing our own thoughts it might make you think more positively toward a platform you haven’t had the experience with yet.

Happy networking!

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