While the big three are indeed important, it’s sometimes more refreshing to enter uncharted territory and find fellow entrepreneurs, and even widen your prospect or audience net.
If you’re a freelancer or entrepreneur hungry for more clients or more knowledge (or both), print this list out and visit these business network sites. They're the success boost you’re looking for.
Here are 29 business networking sites that can expand your network:
APSense: a self-proclaimed “web 2.0 enabled social network” designed to help entrepreneurs discover each other’s businesses. You can create your own content, create a private network, and create business partnerships.
Biznik: the site name means “fellow business person,” and it’s a haven for solopreneurs to support each other, collaborate, and network. According to the site, “if your business is an extension of your self-expression, then you’ve found the right home.”
The site has three subscription options: Basic (search-optimized profile and light participation), PRO (professional profile, full participation access, and create your own content), and ProVIP (an enhanced professional profile, search-optimized participation, and editorial support for created content).
Care2: if you or your business focus(es) on making a difference in the community or world at large (e.g. going green), this network is for you.
Cofoundr: a global network site dedicated to startup entrepreneurs, offering exclusive deals to help ‘treps save money and make valued connections to facilitate startup success.
Company.com: a site that not only provides intra-company networking services, but also aims to increase your company’s Google PageRank as well. Company.com offers to use its PageRank 8 (PR8) status to help get your site on Page 1 in Google search.
DOOSTANG: the “Ladders” for grads from top colleges, minus the “$100K+” minimum, it appears more a job site than a business network site.
Ecademy: a British business network site with global reach and accessibility, fostering connections online that can meet in person at various networking events worldwide.
The site has three subscription options: Free (view others’ content and establish connections), PowerNetworker (establish connections and create your own content), and BlackStar (the exclusive club that gives you the ability to meet offline at events).
EFactor (EFactor Corp.): claims to be the world’s largest entrepreneurial community, with over one million members (competition for LinkedIn’s 175 million, I suppose). EFactor’s unique selling proposition (USP) is its algorithm leading you to the connections your business needs instead of just connecting you to people you might know.
Entrepreneur Connect (site currently closed for redesign): business magazine Entrepreneur’s online community where ‘treps can connect, collaborate, and communicate with each other.
FledgeWing: a network for new entrepreneurs and students to build their business ideas and bounce them off the community to develop them into viable, pitch-able businesses, or collaborate on an already-existing project. The home page even has an ideas section in which anyone can post business ideas.
JASEzone: a network site that follows LinkedIn’s premise, but is a much smaller community.
Konnects: if you’re in the media or journalism fields, Konnects is a good network for you, and is especially helpful for promotion. The site states it’s “the only social media platform designed for local newspapers.”
LinkedIn (of course): perhaps the most important platform of the “big three”, LI is the most renowned global business network around, and its Premium membership is well worth the monthly payment, facilitating cold prospecting (via InMail) and leveraging existing connections to turn cold prospects into clients through introductions, recommendations, and now skill endorsements.
NetParty: this network arranges after-hours networking parties/functions at stylish clubs and venues for young ‘treps.
Networking for Professionals: a well-rounded (and slightly older) business network that fosters communication, connections, and partnerships, even providing a place for members to post resumes. Membership is mostly paid (with a few free exceptions in some states).
PartnerUp: the site’s description sums it up nicely: “the social network for small business.” Connect, find opportunities, partner with other business owners to expand yours, offer support, and even find real estate for your business if you’re brick-n-mortar.
PerfectBusiness: according to the site, “Our[s] is a network of entrepreneurs, investors and business experts. Everyone on our site is here to encourage entrepreneurship and mutual success.”
Plaxo: put simply, Plaxo is the address book on steroids, automatically updating your contacts’ info for you when they move, get a new job, or join a new social network.
PROskore (formerly Fast Pitch): the business network that measures your professional influence and ability as a business. As the TechCrunch article calls it, it’s “LinkedIn + Klout + Leads Generation”.
Ryze: Founded in 2001 by Adrian Scott, founding investor for Napster, Ryze is an elder (I’m using that respectfully) among social network sites, helping members to organize themselves by location, employment history, and interests.
The site looks simplistic, but is home to many big thinkers in the tech and business worlds, as you’ll see from the testimonials on its home page. The network offers free and gold member (only $9.99/month) options.
Socialcast: enterprise network software aimed to streamline intra-business communication and workflow; it also facilitates an intra-business social network.
Spoke: a business content curation site that connects people through information exchange and facilitates your growth as an authority in your industry.
StartupNation: as the name implies, the network site fosters brand new ‘treps to establish their startups with loads of resources, and of course offers the chance to network with other ‘treps.
TalkBizNow: an online business network that’s determined to help professionals glean information and form a community for free, even including its own internal contact and chat system in additional to all of its other business resources.
Upspring: this site is less a business network site and more a social media marketing and all-around promotional booster for your business.
Xing: though a European business network, it has global accessibility and offers not only networking, but includes job search, events, groups, and, like LinkedIn, industry news.
Yammer: helps companies form internal social networks and communicate/collaborate remotely as well across the web.
Young Entrepreneur: YE is part of Entrepreneur’s media network and has become one of the most venerable online communities for young ‘treps, startup CEOs, mentors and investors.
Ziggs: an online network that offers all the trappings of a business network, but specializes in helping you manage your company’s personal brand; and now offers a jobs board.
What Do You Do With All of This?
That list may seem exhaustive, but here’s how you can keep it simple: find three sites in the list that suit your needs and research them, narrowing down to one choice to add to your “big three” accounts that you feel will augment your business network or experience.
For More Information
I extracted this list from these informative sites:
About.com’s Web Trends article
Wikipedia’s social network sites list
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Flickr photo by thetaxhaven.