It may seem that Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter get all the media love when it comes to social networking, but there is a wealth of sites out there to link business people with other like-minded folks. Most appeal to a niche of users, so you’re sure to find one for your particular need. As with all social-networking sites, the value comes from who else participates on the site and how actively. Most of the sites are free, but many charge for premium services (and many make it annoyingly difficult to find out the cost until you sign up!).
Click through to learn more about 10 social networks targeted specifically for business.
Ziggs offers help with personal branding, making it a goodsite to promote yourself as an IT consultant or PC-repair specialist. It alsooffers group networking and you can find and post jobs. It sends e-mail alertswhen someone else looks at your profile.
This online business networking group helps members connect, and find partners and customers through discussions, events, classifieds and articles. Members of LoopDesk can post and share content and invite other businesses tojoin. One-time fee of $49.99.
Much like LinkedIn, Xing offers personal profiles, groups,discussion forums and event coordination. In 2009 this Germany-based socialnetwork began offering company profiles. Through its Ambassador program, itoffers local events to help people get acquainted. Its Enterprise groups are closed communities, andon sign-up there is an option to upgrade to a premium level of service for a fee.
You’ve gotta love Biznik‘s motto: ‘Business networking thatdoesn’t suck.’ It builds communitiesbased in individual cities. Biznik focuses on independent businesses, butrejects those that require you to recruit others (network marketing). The sitedescribes it as ‘[a site] for sharing your ideas, not posting your resume. It’s the place where real conversations aboutsmall business and entrepreneurship are taking place.’ Free, with premiummemberships costing up to $24 a month. Note: Depending on where you live, youmay find that there is no Biznik community for your city-at the time weresearched this slideshow, there was no community for our hometown of Louisville, Ky., a top 50 market.
Fast Pitch describes itself as a ‘one-stop shop’ for abusiness professional to network and market the business. It offers tools tohelp with promotional activities such as distribution of press releases, blog promotion and e-mail marketing. Premium memberships up to $16 a month.
Entrepreneur Connect helps small-business owners share ideas andconnect with providers, suppliers, advisors or colleagues. It describes itselfthis way, ‘This site is not intended for mass self-promotion, but rather shouldbe a positive destination where entrepreneurs can exchange real advice and make lasting connections.’ It offers discussions, document sharing, blogs,classifieds and events.
E.Factor focuses on helping entrepreneurs with advice,assistance and funding. While the site offers mentoring, the chance to write ablog and offerings similar to other business social networks, it sets itselfapart by providing a way for entrepreneurs to buy health insurance. It notesthat the threat of losing health insurance dissuades many would-beentrepreneurs from jumping into a startup. Basic membership is free (includingability to buy health insurance), with a la carte prices for individual itemssuch as events, mentoring, etc. Platinum membership for all the services is$1,920 annually. Note: The sign-up process requires a phone number.
UK-based MeettheBoss focuses narrowly on senior executives across allvertical industries. It offers secure videoconferencing, IM, e-mail and SMSbetween members. Its ‘SmartWords’ feature tracks the user on the site and,based on keywords and topics, provides content of special interest to thatmember. According to The New York Times, it zealously guards users’ identityand specifically screens out salespeople, recruiters, vendors, consultants andjournalists; confirmation of registration requests takes about an hour. Thesite features weekly video interviews as well as discussion groups and Q&Aswith industry leaders by subscription. The site is very rich-media; in fact, itruns a browser check to make sure your system is ready to handle all the bellsand whistles before you begin the registration process.
This social-networking site helps small-business owners and entrepreneurs find business partners and co-founders, network with other businesspeople, ask for and offer advice, andfind resources for their business. PartnerUp sets itself apart with a service to helpfind commercial real estate for the business.
The site is organized under three terms: ‘Connect’ withentrepreneurs, ‘Learn’ how to succeed and ‘Launch’ your business. It offersnetworking among entrepreneurs, help with a business plans and software for it,video interviews, a weekly webcast and library. Premium membership to PerfectBusiness costs $29.99 per month.