There’s more to networking than just catching up with old and long lost school friends or wasting time doing nothing constructive. And this is where business networking comes in. In addition to posting your profiles on job portals, signing up with business or professional networking sites will boost the probability of connecting with strategic people and could land you a job. Not just that, professional networking also increases your circle of professional contacts, thereby assisting you in decision making, come an emergency.
Although the idea is more or less the same as social networking, the underlying sentiments are more serious and need greater privacy and integrity. Hence, filtering out spammers becomes all the more important. When you’re out there looking out for something serious, the last thing you want is to be linked to by unknown people for no reason.
Essentially, the first thing you look for in a professional networking site is privacy, credibility, integrity and appropriate users to interact with. These will certainly differ from user to user, but we can assess the sites according to their functionality and operability. We looked into the options we had and came across several web sites that claimed to be the one answer to your business networking needs.
The sites that we closed in on in our final comparison were SiliconIndia.com and LinkedIn.com, in addition to a few other web sites that fell below our expectations. There is a significant difference between SiliconIndia.com and LinkedIn.com, and so there is a clear winner here. LinkedIn has a very intuitive interface that takes you straight to where you need to go, with a vast storehouse of users. The reason we even included SiliconIndia is that, from an Indian perspective, SiliconIndia.com seems to be the only web site that has a user base of a significant size. At the last count, it had approximately 3.2 million registered users, more importantly from the Indian subcontinent.
So, for the contender of our professional networking award, SiliconIndia.com does well as our runner up. Coming to our winner, LinkedIn.com takes privacy very seriously. Firstly, it encourages you to add contacts only if you know them. LinkedIn prompts you to mention how you know the contact or supply their email address. Further, it needs the approval of the other person (referred to as a connection in LinkedIn) for the connection to be complete. The best part is that, if over a period of time several people say they don’t know you, LinkedIn automatically keeps tabs on you and you will not be able to add contacts directly until you commit not to add contacts without knowing them. As far as the number of registered users go, there are 45 million users on LinkedIn.com.
The likelihood that you will meet more people from your professional circle is higher on LinkedIn than any other professional networking site. Also, going by the number of prominent users on LinkedIn, the site’s credibility is indisputable. Barrack Obama, Sarah Palin, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are just some of the personalities you will find on LinkedIn.com.
LinkedIn has a large number of groups and associations. If you are a technologist and plan to launch your venture, you will find a vast pool of venture capitalists registered with LinkedIn. Even college students and professionals across sectors are active here.
LinkedIn.com also has a very useful tool called LinkedIn Answers that lets you ask any question that you may have relevant to your profession or business and the vast pool of LinkedIn users will answer it for you.