Most people use know LinkedIn is important to building their professional network. But, this is definitely not the only place to build and engage your professional network. Here are sites other than LinkedIn to use when trying to build and engage your professional network:
AngelList (angel.co) was started in 2010 to connect start-ups and investors. The site says that it has helped raise over $160M for start-ups and has profiles for over 70,000 start-ups currently. There are also over 5M users on the platform. There are also over 100,000 jobs on the system that are posted nowhere else and cannot be accessed without an Angel.co profile.
AngelList has evolved to much more than the typical start-ups and contains many companies that are well established. It's a great place to find emerging companies, to learn more about their leadership, and to connect with people that aren't on LinkedIn.
Meetup (www.meetup.com) was founded in 2002 and was acquired by WeWork in 2017. This platform was originally intended to organize online groups and to host in-person events for people with similar interests. The pandemic accelerated the shift to more online events and opportunities for people to connect with others in their field or that share their interests.
The events on Meetup can vary in costs from free to small fees or member driven fees. This site isn't just for professional networking and there are also plenty of activities to connect with people that have social interests that are shared with you as well. There is also functionality to build profiles and to connect with people on the system across groups.
Eventbrite (www.eventbrite.com) was created in 2006 and it is a platform where people, companies, and organizations can post their events to connect with others of shared interests. You can create a profile on here for free and the organizations that create the events are charged a fee unless the event is free.
This event driven site was also originally created for in-person events, but there is an increasing number of virtual opportunities on the site. The ability to connect with other attendees is a bit more limited on this site, but there are some great events here that can be used strategically to grow your network and to engage with people that may not be on LinkedIn.
The costs of events on this site can vary dramatically. The events are also not all professional. But, you can find a lot more opportunities on this site than you can on Meetup and you can use the events in whatever way advances your professional networking objectives.
Lunchclub (lunchclub.com) is a US based social media platform that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to connect users with common interests and objectives. This company was launched in 2017 and is remote first. It advertises itself as an invite-only system, but there are some workarounds to that. The goal of the site is to enable people to connect as much as they want to with people in the US and across the world. The site also offers a video platform or the participants can connect with each other using the technology of their choosing.
Lunchclub is focused on making individual connections. The meetings are typically 15 - 30 minutes and 1:1. There are some special events that enable people to connect in a speed networking at a higher volume on the same day. The connections on this site are primarily professional and it involves far more than those looking for a job.
Reddit (www.reddit.com) was founded in 2005 and has evolved to be one of the top places where people connect to ask and answer questions - about anything. This can be a great place to establish your expertise in an area, to connect with people that have shared interests, and to start real conversations.
Reddit has over 48 million monthly active users as of June 2021. It is now ranking as one of the most popular mobile social apps in the US. About 63% of the users on the site are male. Most users are on Reddit for at least 10 minutes 23 seconds per visit to the site/app. That's a long time compared to many of its social media counterparts.
Reddit is also the most popular amount users aged 25 - 29. In fact, 1 in 4 US adults in this age range use Reddit. So, if you are trying to connect with professionals in this age range, chances are that you will find them on Reddit.
Slack (www.slack.com) is a business communication platform that was acquired by Salesforce in 2021. It offers many features to connect, collaborate, and create private or public conversations.
In 2021, there are over 12 million active Slack users on a daily basis. 43% of Fortune 100 businesses pay to use Slack. Over 4,000 apps have also been developed for use with Slack. There is a total of over 600,000 organizations around the world that are currently using Slack.
People don't just use Slack at work. There are plenty of community driven Slack channels that enable people to connect with others that have similar interests. So, getting on the platform and leveraging it in your networking efforts is likely easier than most people think.
FaceBook (www.facebook.com) isn't really a site for most people to network professionally. But, the groups can be a great place to find people with shared interests in products, industries, or topics. You have to be smart about how you find these groups and you will probably want to have a professional FaceBook profile before joining (with a separate personal FaceBook profile) any groups.
There are over 620 Million Groups on Facebook and over 1.8B people that use these groups every month. That means that there are over 70 M admins and moderators that run these groups. That's a huge and undeniable opportunity to reach people that aren't on LinkedIn. And, with such volume, there are certainly groups on FaceBook that have nothing to do with your professional goals. So, be smart about what groups you join and how you use them if your interests in doing so are professional.
ResearchGate (www.researchgate.net) is a European commercial social networking site for scientists and researchers to share their papers, ask questions, and find collaborators. You should skip this site if you aren't in research or science. But, if you are, then this is the place to be to find people to collaborate with and to find answers to questions.
There are over 17 million users on the site and most of them are in Europe and North America. This is a big audience to engage with and it extends well beyond academics.
Built In (and other regional Start-up Sites)
Built In (www.builtin.com) is an online community for national startups and tech companies. There are separate sites for most large cities in the US on this platform. This site isn't as big as AngelList, but it can be a great resource for emerging start-ups and investors in particular markets. There are also plenty of local competitors in some cities that have a stronger footprint in the area. So, if you are looking to connect with start-ups, emerging technologies, or investors, this could be a great resource in your professional networking efforts.
Elpha, Girlboss (and other female driven networking sites)
There are also lots of sites that are specifically geared towards women for networking. A few examples of this are Elpha (www.elpha.com) and Girlboss (www.girlboss.com) are just a few examples of these professional networking sites that are exclusively for women. They are all designed for women to connect with other women to help elevate their professional goals. Each site has different functionality and benefits. Most of these sites are geared toward millennial and GenZ women who aren't on LinkedIn or other professional networking sites. So, test them out to see if these could be the right fit for your professional goals/interests.
As you can see, there are lots of networking sites out there right now where you can connect with people in a professional context. You can spend as much (or as little) time on each of these as you want. The point is that you should find what works for you and to start building a network that helps you to reach your professional goals. You should also update that strategy (and the sites that you use) regularly so that you stay relevant and advancing towards your goals.
Need help in building a strategy for your professional networking or a profile to start connecting with people? Schedule a free consultation today.