Use these best networking sites to expand your professional network

The 5 Best Networking Sites That Aren’t LinkedIn

With over 830 million users in 200 countries and territories around the globe, LinkedIn is certainly a candidate for the best networking site. But like any other social media platform, it has both benefits and drawbacks. You can grow your network, connect with current and former coworkers, or even find college classmates that can help you in your career.

Contrarily, you can get tons of spam, connection requests from people you’ve never met, and a heaping dose of content that’s not relevant to your interest or your career. The good news is that it’s not your only option. Some of the best networking sites hide in plain sight, yet because of LinkedIn’s massive reach, they fall under the radar.

So if you want to break away from LinkedIn, narrow your focus, expand your network, and do it all while meeting like-minded people, put a few of these networking sites on your radar.

Best General Networking Site

You don’t have to dive headfirst into a new professional networking site just to say you did it. The idea is to find a supplemental website that pairs nicely with LinkedIn. So if you’re just looking for something fresh, give this next idea a try.

1. Meetup

Founded in 2002, is more than just a professional networking website. It’s one of the best networking sites to explore your interests and hobbies, grow your career or business, or just connect with others in the same industry.

Plus, the Meetup platform is one of the easiest and most intuitive to use. Once you create an account, simply type your interest and zip code into the search bar, press enter, and you’re inundated with interest groups. You can also find local events to attend or even create your own group if need be.

Meetup also knows how busy working professionals can be, so it offers a mix of in-person and online events that you can fit into your schedule. It’s totally free, and it’s a must if you’re looking for one of the best networking sites on the planet.

Best Networking Site for Women

As a professional woman, you may feel like LinkedIn isn’t really in tune with your interests or geared toward female success in the workplace. COVID decimated the job market for many women, and on top of that, women have plenty of obstacles to overcome with regard to workplace fairness and equal pay. That’s why a networking site specifically for women just makes sense.

2. Ladies Who Launch

Ladies Who Launch isn’t your typical social media website, and maybe that’s because it’s not technically one at all. Instead of going with the traditional social media layout, it offers resources for female entrepreneurs and the opportunity to connect online or at in-person events. While the site offers plenty of information, tips, and other tidbits, Ladies Who Launch also has a Slack channel that’s free to join to interact with others. It’s a great place to meet other female professionals without a ton of commitment — be a bystander or the center of the show — the choice is yours.

Best Networking Site for IT Professionals

Remote IT jobs are typically at the top of the most lucrative in the business, and for good reason. Most IT jobs are easily done from home, giving those who want to telecommute an easier career option. However, the nature of working from home in an IT fashion can also lead to problems networking with other IT professionals. To bridge the gap, networking sites specifically for IT professionals are becoming more popular, and not a moment too soon.

3. Xing

Founded in Germany and popular across non-English-speaking parts of Europe, Xing is finally getting its foothold in the American market. Founded in 2003, it’s a direct competitor to LinkedIn and offers a similar platform. The major difference is that it allows you to connect specifically with others in the IT field. So whether you’re looking to land your first remote IT job or continue on your career path, Xing offers the opportunity without all of the added hassle of sifting through LinkedIn.

Best Networking Site for People of Color

According to a recent survey from the LA Times, 86% of Latinx workers and 81% of Asian and Black workers would prefer a hybrid or completely work from home arrangement. It’s an astonishing number, especially considering that only 75% of White workers prefer the same thing. However, people of color typically make up a disproportionately small amount of the remote workforce.

Several theories exist as to why this might be the case, but one reason may just be simply a lack of networking options. Fortunately, networking sites are getting the message, allowing people of color to find like-minded individuals or share ideas online.

4. Black Professionals Network

With a goal of achieving 1 million members across the country, the Black Professionals Network certainly has some lofty aspirations. But with a mix of resources, programs, events, and support, it just may achieve that goal sooner rather than later.

While the arguably best networking site for people of color only has chapters in Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago, it’s always taking interest in people who want to start another chapter in their own city. In addition to these chapters, the online forum and resources allow members to discuss business ideas, offer a helping hand, or connect on both a business and personal level.

Best Networking Sites for College Students

If you’re still attending college, LinkedIn doesn’t do you a ton of good. Sure, you can set up a profile to get the ball rolling for the future, but it’s likely not a useful app until you graduate. Fortunately, you have other options to connect with future professionals and business leaders. So if you’re tired of Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook, try this option.

5. Atleto

Not everything has to be so serious all the time. You’re in college, so you may as well enjoy yourself. That’s how Atleto can help. As one of the best networking sites for students, Atleto allows members to organize sporting events, leagues, and tournaments, as well as general workout sessions. You simply sign up, host or join activities, and you’re already expanding your network in a fun, exciting way.

At universities where Atleto has been regularly used, students have gotten three times their average exercise while also increasing school spirit and camaraderie. But the most exciting aspect remains — the people you meet that just might change your professional life, even if it’s years down the road.

Use Every Networking Site to Your Advantage

You don’t have to turn your back on LinkedIn to expand your professional network as a remote worker. LinkedIn is still a valuable tool that can help you land gigs or find your next job. Using other professional networks in unison just provides more options. By combining multiple social networking sites, you can hone in on the people who can help your career, break the monotony of a sole platform, and expand your horizons.

When you pare it down, the best networking sites are the ones that get results. That’s all that really matters.

Which of these networking sites grabbed your attention? Connect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts and tips. We’d love to hear from you!

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