You log on to a website, set up a profile, find the head honchos of all your dream companies a click away and connect with all the colleagues you’ve ever known until someone in your network refers you to the job you always desired. This is the dream that professional networking sites are selling to hopeful job seekers and recruiters alike. But there’s more to virtual business networking than just the next plum job offer.
The canvas of online business networking may be crowded with a zillion names today but back in 2003, there weren’t too many. The forerunner of this business is undoubtedly LinkedIn. Founded in December 2002 and launched in May 2003, the website claims to have more than 135 million registered users across more than 200 countries and territories as of November 2011. However, it was only in 2011 that LinkedIn went public.
The keyword in successful business networking is trust, which sets it apart from social networking where everything an individual puts up isn’t necessarily the gospel truth. Every single word on a business profile has to be as credible as the words on one’s resume. In recent times, professional networking has become a great way to find prospective business partners. One would hesitate to approach a stranger for a partnership on a social networking website but not so on a business networking website. Especially for starting entrepreneurs, these websites eliminate the need for agencies and middlemen.
Taking business networking into the virtual world has led to an increase in recruiters checking the social networking profiles of prospective candidates. It is debatable whether this is an ethical practice. While an individual’s profile on a business networking website is meant for the very purpose, it seems a little unjustifiable to judge an individual by their personal profile. It is advisable to have strict privacy settings one’s personal profiles to avoid disasters.
A trend that is catching on is the practice of including one’s LinkedIn URL on the resume. In this case, it’s essential to ensure that one’s profile is up to date and authentic as it can create a negative impression to have an incomplete or shoddy profile.
Indian professional networking websites can be broadly classified into two categories - generalised or specialized. additionally, they can be open or by invitation. It makes good sense to supplement a LinkedIn profile with a profile on an Indian professional networking website that caters to your needs specifically. While there are various options to choose from, here are a few notable websites:
Brijj.com: This website was launched in August 2007 by Info Edge India Ltd., the parent company of the well known naukri.com. The website allows you to create and join groups and also build your own network, just like LinkedIn. One unique feature is the various sections such as innovation, tips on preparing for a job interview and improving one’s presentation skills.
Siliconindia.com: One of the earlier launched websites, Siliconindia.com claims to be “India’s largest professional networking portal” with over two million members. Apart from the regular features, the website is known for its resource of blogs and news feeds on different careers and industry updates, posted by members.
ApnaCircle.com: Founded by Mr. Yogesh Bansal in December 2006, this one proclaims itself as “India's first and leading Business and career networking site”. ApnaCircle is a good option for those with localised needs. There is a lot of local content available on the website with information in context to India such as local MBA schools and local jobs, employers and job seekers.
Peerpower.com: Launched by the Times of India Group, Peerpower.com positions itself as a one stop destination for senior-level professionals to build new business contacts and to keep themselves updated with the latest happenings in the industry. The website falls under the category of only by invitation and is meant solely for senior level professionals. There are only two ways to become a member – either through a personal invite from a friend or through a direct request for a personal invite to Peer Power.
TooStep.com: Toostep.com, apart from being aprofessional networking site is also a portfolio management tool. While most professional netowkring options are either websites or applications, this one is available on both platforms. The site is meant towards helping you be recognized as a leading expert while allowing you to share knowledge and connect with other experts. The site focuses on building a community of professional exchange through discussions and debates on various subjects and ideas.
Wapr.com: Warp.com is a specialised website directed towards creating an online B2B community, providing them with a secure intranet and application store while allowing members to find various applications and thousands of SME's from the Wapr network, helping them generate additional revenues.
Other notable websites include kreeo.com, plaxo.com, sysinclude.com and many others that are not yet launched.
The latest trend is to leverage the membership database of existing social networking websites and launch a business networking application on the same platform. A few applications that have risen to popularity are BranchOut, Beknown and Talent.Me.
The advantage of using these applications is that they draw on information from your existing social profile, making it easier to construct your business profile. Additionally, one doesn’t have to log on to two different websites for social and professional business networking. In the future, it is quite possible that all the leading business networking websites will be available as applications as well.
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