LinkedIn is now the major player in professional social networking. But other free or trimmed down alternatives are emerging. Here we look at three that are worth considering.
Zerply bills itself as being “a professional network built around people who love what they do.” Okay, that’s a bit vague, as you wouldn’t really want to network with people who love dressing in adult diapers, and I’m sure they love what they do. More pragmatically, Zerply is a networking site that aims to be a little less corporate in nature, and as such it is likely to appeal to creative types.
Zerply aims to simply both users’ profiles and the communication between members, and at the same time to allow more informal networks to emerge (it is very easy to contact people who you don’t already know but who share interests and complementary skills). Users can save contacts, endorse others’ tags, find users who are similar to themselves and search specifically for users based on location, profile tags, skills, professional experience, education and more.
Many people use LinkedIn as a way to source new business contacts, whether for sales, marketing or networking. Data.com Contacts by Jigsaw cuts out all the other stuff that social networking entails to give you access to a community of more than 20 million business people, and a contact list claimed to contain over 30 million up-to-date business-to-business contacts. The best thing is that these contact details not only include names, positions and companies, but also email addresses and phone numbers too, with around 70% being direct dial numbers.
Costs: Annual plans currently range from $250 to $1,000 per month, with unlimited enterprise solutions priced at $99 per user per month.
Much has already been written on Google’s new social network, but whilst primarily aimed at Facebook users many of its features make it an excellent professional networking tool. The ability to create Circles to differentiate between family, friends, work colleagues and so on is well-known, and of course this can be extended to include distinct Circles for business contacts, even segmenting those business contacts by discipline, organisation, etc. This allows you the option to both contact people one-to-one or to broadcast to all or part of your business network.
Hangouts too, allow a novel – and free – alternative to video conferencing. And these are still early days for the network; we can expect more networking-friendly features to emerge over the next year or so. So building your contact list now may pay real dividends later.