Every few months I receive a flurry of emails inviting me to join a new networking site. After a week or so, the emails slow down and POOF, gone with little fanfare.
Occasionally, someone will mention one of these sites. I prefer to flip the question back and ask how they are using it, who is on the site, and the results they’ve seen on the site. It’s usually a brief conversation.
It’s not that I don’t think there can be viable competitors to LinkedIn. When people ask me what I think LinkedIn will look like in five years, I tell them I have no idea. Could someone come along and eat their lunch? Maybe. But it is less likely now that Microsoft has purchased them (fingers crossed they don’t bungle the acquisition.)
What’s more interesting than the other networking sites is that no networking platform works by itself. At least, no credible one does. You see, it’s the person who knows the nuance, understands the intention and is willing to engage in an interesting, authentic way that will find new opportunities online and build their credibility.
My advice – Rather than spread your networking activities across multiple platforms, master the big one(s). Everyone has a finite amount of time. You won’t gain traction jumping from one to another.
If you can create traction on another site like Referral Key or Opportunity, that’s great. Sometimes joining an up and coming site does provide upside since there are less people on the site. The question is who is on the site.
On the other side of the coin, if you are wondering why none of these sites are helping you drive business, read on.
5 Ways to Determine Whether a Networking Site is Worth an Investment of Your Time:
- People that you want to network and do business with are on the site.
- There are multiple ways to engage on the site and learn more about people, companies, and topics.
- People are actively looking for people like you.
- Your current and potential clients are members and are using the site.
- You are able to carve out additional time in your day to learn how the site works.
If you don’t answer yes to at least four of the criteria, then stick with LinkedIn and once and for all, learn it.
Stop spreading your networking intentions too thin. Instead:
- Dive in, master one area of LinkedIn at a time.
- Finish your profile
- Talk to your connections
- Read an article
- Ask your marketing department what their LinkedIn company strategy is, and help them implement it
Get busy. There is work to do on mastering LinkedIn before you jump to a NEW networking platform.
Just in case, you want to check out some of LinkedIn’s alternatives, here are a couple of well-crafted lists:
20 Social Networking Sites for Business Professionals
12 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn