Professional networking platforms focus solely on interactions and relationships of businesses rather than personal interactions. They are generally used by business individuals to create professional networks, get ahead in career, or gain resources.
LinkedIn is currently the world’s largest professional network, with more than 800 million members worldwide. It is the first choice for both job seekers (to post their resumes) and employers (to post jobs).
However, like any giant online platform, LinkedIn has weaknesses. For one, you need to spend a considerable amount of time developing your profile, building links, and initiating conversations with your network.
The worst thing is you will always find spammers trying to sell your products. In fact, the ratio of genuine people and spammers seems to be getting worse year by year.
I’m not telling you to leave LinkedIn, but there are many great websites that can add supplemental value. I’ve curated a list of 14 professional networking sites that serve as a viable alternative to LinkedIn. They will help you connect with industry decision-makers and keep up with the latest news and business events you care about.
Founded in: 2014
Rating: 7.8/10 from 1,500+ users
Best for: Matching buyers with service providers
Bark is a place where you can find the best networking and infrastructure professionals. It connects services buyers to suitable service providers.
If you are looking for a service and not sure where to start, give this platform a try. Tell them about your project, and they will send you a group of professionals to review. You can read previous reviews, compare profiles, and ask for more details before making a decision.
Some of the top services provided by Bark include pet grooming, dog training, web wedding videography, web design, personal training, house cleaning, etc. It offers more than 800 services across the US, UK, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Ireland.
Businesses can use this platform to see what customers are looking for and how to target maximum-revenue generating customers. The platform sends you leads for free. However, you have to pay to contact suitable customers. The price is calculated based on location, the type of service, and the value of the job.
Founded in: 2011
Rating: 8.1/10 from 300+ users
Best for: Managing events and engaging audiences
Bizzabo is an all-in-one event management platform designed to handle every phase of the event lifecycle. It allows you to create registrations, build multi-day schedules, create stunning event websites, and monitor event success metrics — all while keeping attendee data private and secure. So far, it has powered more than 85,000 events.
Successful events drive business growth. With Bizzabo, you can create meaningful, long-lasting connections, whether your audience is virtual, in-person, or hybrid. Existing LinkedIn users won’t even need to sign up, as Bizzabo can access the information from LinkedIn profiles.
The platform gives you access to powerful analytics, which helps you make informed decisions about your event program, from attendee engagement to post-event survey feedback. The data seamlessly integrates into other platforms as well, making it easier for your teams to get on the same page.
Unlike most other event management tools, Bizzabo maintains the highest levels of security standards and industry best practices, including CCPA, ADA, ISO27001, SOCII, and GDPR compliance.
Founded in: 2006
Rating: 9.3/10 from 2,500+ users
Best for: Hosting videos and podcasts
Wistia helps B2B marketers get more results from their videos and podcasts. It is mainly used by people who want to drive traffic to their websites, increase conversions, or improve engagement across their sites and apps.
The platform comes with a fully-customizable video player and lead generation and marketing integration tools that make your content perform better. There are tons of free educational resources to get inspired and learn important things about content production, marketing, sales, and product updates.
The platform is perfect for publishing a gallery of videos, podcasts, and webinars in one streamable experience. Since informative videos tend to get more clicks, it helps users drive more traffic, collect email addresses, and get a better return on investment.
Wistia has an in-depth analytic system that shows how your target audience consumes and interacts with your content. Unlike YouTube, it allows you to drill down to see how individual users are watching your videos and where exactly they are clicking (with heatmaps).
The free version includes all standard features for videos and podcasts. However, it restricts you from uploading more than three videos or podcast episodes. With the Pro version, which costs $99 per month, you can add up to ten video/audio files. It also gives you an option to add as many files as you need for 25¢ per month.
Founded in: 2003
Rating: 8.4/10 from 50,000+ users
Best for: Skill showcasing, event coordination, job recommendations
Xing is a platform where professionals from different sectors can meet, find jobs, and get ideas for new assignments. There are more than 60,000 groups to build networks with the right people and exchange views.
Xing gives you personalized job recommendations based on your profile details. It also guides you on how to search jobs and set custom alerts so you never miss out on any suitable opportunities.
The platform features closed communities, which have their own interface designs and access paths. It serves as the infrastructure for corporate groups, including Accenture, McKinsey, IBM, and many more notable firms.
You can see personal profiles, follow news related to your industry, and join discussion forums for free. However, many core features, like searching for people with specific qualifications or messaging unknown people, can only be accessed by premium members. The premium subscription costs between €6 and €10, depending on your location and billing cycle.
Unlike most other websites (listed on this page), Xing is more prominent in European countries than in the United States.
Founded in: 2014
Rating: 7.8/10 from 100+ users
Best for: Searching jobs, business leads, and employees
MyOpportunity keeps you connected to people and industries that can help you reach your goals. It is built for both businesses and job-seekers.
The platform does all the hard work for people looking for jobs. Its proprietary algorithms match them with the best opportunities in employment, networking, sales, and professional relationships (based on variables that identify ‘who needs who or what’ anywhere in the world).
Results are shown in real-time so users can take immediate action. Plus, users can configure it to receive alerts every time a recruiter posts an opportunity that matches their job requirements.
Founded in: 1999
Rating: 9.3/10 from 400+ users
Best for: Relationship mapping
BoardEx contains in-depth profiles of more than 1.5 million of the world’s business leaders, and it shows the relationships among these professionals. Data of each individual is carefully researched and updated regularly.
Each profile contains valuable information such as education, major achievements, name of the current and past organizations, position held, experience in the industry, salary, bonuses, and incentive pay. Since the stock prices affect compensation information like incentive pay, the data is updated daily.
The database also contains the Company Summary page, which summarizes the board structure, board movements, executive and non-executive directors, senior managers, and committee members.
You can make a list of direct connections (first level) and use it to find connections to others (second level) and in turn their connection (third level). There are plenty of options to track and analyze individuals with alerts and create customized reports.
According to the company, 80% of the world’s notable investment banks use BoardEx to expedite outreach, 70% of the world’s top leading consulting firms use it to map business relationships, and 50% of the world’s top-ranking universities use it for alumni outreach and career services.
Founded in: 2010
Rating: 9.5/10 from 2,000,000+ users
Best for: Creating a dedicated space for friends and colleagues
GroupMe is a free messaging app owned by Microsoft. It has more than 10 million monthly active users. The app is mostly used to facilitate online course discussions, small group works, and other course communications for both in-person and online sections. Unlike other popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and FB Messanger, GroupMe is designed around multiperson chats.
You need to create dedicated groups for you and your friends to chat together. Each group has to have its own name, purpose, and participants. However, not every message should be delivered to the whole group. Take your private conversation aside by tapping on a friend’s avatar anywhere in the group.
The best thing about GroupMe is you don’t necessarily need to install the app to use its features. You can chat with your groups and share images and videos directly over SMS.
The app also allows you to add polls to get the opinion of the group and create calendar events to schedule offline meetings and know who is showing up.
Founded in: 2010
Rating: 8.1/10 from 200+ users
Best for: Recruitment, investments, and entrepreneurship
AngelList is designed for job-seekers looking to work at startups and for angel investors who want to invest their money in small companies.
It’s a great platform for startups too, because it allows them to raise money from accredited investors free of charge. If you are looking for funds, you can see profiles of angel investors, the company they work for, and customize your pitch by learning more about their business history through their LinkedIn profile. So far, over $1 billion has been raised on this platform.
If you are looking for a job, you can apply privately to over 130,000 tech and startup jobs with one application. The best thing about this platform is it allows you to speak directly to founders and hiring managers. Plus, you can see salary and stock options details before you apply for a job.
AngelList displays detailed information about the company culture, size, operations, and investments. It also shows whether work from home option is available or if the company is willing to sponsor visas.
Founded in: 2002
Rating: 9.6/10 from 270,000+ users
Best for: Sharing interest through online and in-person events
With more than 50 million users, Meetup helps you make like-minded friends, discover creative communities, create a personal brand, and grow a business. You can use direct messaging or have discussions with people you connect with.
The platform hosts more than 330,000 groups, ranging from career & business to health & wellbeing. Most groups host events on a regular basis. Even if you are not in the group, you can explore events by category, location, or see what’s popular in your area. Save events you would like to be a part of and revisit them later.
You can also create a group (on any topic) and host your own events. Promote your business and watch it grow as your group is recommended to interested members. Accelerate your growth by sharing photos and taking part in discussions.
Overall, this is the best platform to host in-person and virtual events for people with similar interests.
Other Good Websites
Founded in: 2002
Role: Matches tech talent with innovative companies
Hired is a two-sided platform (for job seekers and employers). Candidates can make their profiles and see how companies value their skills and experience.
Recruiters can search through a curated pool of qualified candidates, each pre-vetted for skills, experience, and salary requirements. The platform uses advanced algorithms to find only the right candidates as per job requirements, saving employers 45 sourcing hours per hire.
Founded in: 2015
Best for: Getting instant job recommendations
Jobcase is a ‘people-first’ social platform with more than 110 million registered users. It aims to serve people who were overlooked by conventional job websites.
The platform offers a lot of features for job seeking and self-improvements, such as an online profile and resume building, access to suitable jobs, learning resources, and other useful ways to help people take action and make a better work-life.
It integrates well with other popular job search services like Indeed, GlassDoor, and Career Builder.
Founded in: 2004
Best for: Starting a company and raising capital
Gust is a SaaS platform for managing equity ownership and investing in high-growth, scalable companies. It is integrated with various useful tools to help entrepreneurs start, run, raise funds for companies.
Gust’s Launch, for example, makes it easy to run your startup in an investor-friendly way. Compare startup’s progress and team to thousands of data points and surface opportunities to improve.
The platform provides you with personalized feedback as well as recommendations on the best places to raise money based on your specific requirements. So far, it has successfully connected 850,000+ startups with over 85,000 investment professionals.
13. Shapr – Business Networking
Founded in: 2004
Best for: Professionals exploring career changes, or Entrepreneurs seeking cofounders and ideas
Whether you are seeking friends, employees, recruiters, or mentors, Shapr can help you find like-minded and inspiring people.
Just create your profile, fill in your details, link your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, and Shapr will connect you with new users every day. It displays the profile of users who are in the same field or share common interests with you.
If you are interested in the profile, swipe right. If the person on the other side does the same, you can chat and discover mutual interests. Basically, it’s like Tinder, but only for business networking purposes.
Founded in: 2015
Best for: Getting instant part-time jobs
Bluecrew connects you to part-time or full-time hourly jobs. There are numerous job offers, including work in logistics, food service, warehouses, hospitality, customer support, data entry, and more. You can select jobs that suit your needs and your schedules.
Unlike other platforms, when you work with Bluecrew, you get all of the protections and benefits that come with being a W-2 employee, such as sick pay, overtime pay, workers’ comp, and insurance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do you need a professional platform?
Did you know social networking platforms have actually been around longer than Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat? They are more relevant now than ever. These platforms help you —
- Tap into industry news
- Research companies and their employees
- Build your brand and increase sales
- Generate leads
Who owns LinkedIn now?
LinkedIn is currently owned by Microsoft Corporation. In 2016, Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for $26.2 billion to grow the professional networking site and integrate it with MS Office produce suite.
LinkedIn now has more than 800 million registered members from all over the world. About 59.9% of users are between 25 and 34 years old.
How can students benefit from using professional networking sites?
If you are in school or university, this is the perfect time to get ahead of others and start networking with industry professionals. Making a profile on business platforms is a great way to get noticed by industry experts who may help in building a successful career.
You can discuss major challenges and current opportunities in the industry, and gain a unique perspective that you may not have thought of previously.
Every time you connect with a new professional, you will be building up your communication skills and self-confidence that will last you a lifetime. The more you connect with experienced people, the more you will grow as an individual.