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This is an abbreviated version of the corresponding content from our popular Advanced Online Recruiting Techniques course, explaining methods and resources applicable to recruiting in any industry, function, geography or level. Learn more about or register for our live seminar or online course! Or return to free sample content.
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Social Networking Sites

These social networks are similar to the web's virtual communities that preceded these social networking portals, as the functionality offered by both types increasingly overlap (e.g., LinkedIn upgrading its Groups functionality in fall 2008 to make it more two-way like Ning). Here are links (course subscribers only) to more detailed treatments of some of the more useful networking tools and how to use them for recruiting:
LinkedIn, MySpace, Spoke, Twitter

Sites to help people network through friend-of-a-friend connections, a la the "six degrees of separation" concept, have become a hot trend. (In a job-seeking context, Recruiting-Online.com predicted this an article written in summer 2002 for CareerXRoads' 2003 edition. With the notable exception of SixDegrees.com that pioneered this niche, the portals started springing up in this space all launched after 2002, with the help of some venture capital firms jumping in.)

All these sites function in about the same way: you enter your profile, invite some friends to do likewise, search to find members you already know, and expand from there. The sites geared to professionals (e.g., LinkedIn) seem to be growing most with the kinds of people that recruiters and executive job-seekers want. However, to make it a powerful networking tool to build contacts, you should connect to high-connection people (explained later in the course) in order to expand your network. Increasingly, these sites offer a wizard to pull out your email address book, names in contact manager programs, etc. Use it!

You also may want to review some of the employee referral network tools, whose functionality overlaps with these networking portals. Note that the list below does NOT include contact verification programs like Plaxo, GoodContacts or AddresSender.

Here are some with recent buzz/potential (among other places, you can keep up with developments at the Social Software blog which maintains an even more comprehensive list of these portals):

  • Affinity Circles - sets up restricted-access college and corporate alumni networks for organizations, etc., with a lot of related functionality. (Also see SelectMinds below.)
  • Alumni.net - like a growing number of sites, this is geared to finding people through their past school affiliations. See this and others on our separate college- and alumni-geared networking portals list on our college recruiting resources page.
  • aSmallWorld is an invitation-only online community not open to the public, designed for those who already have strong connections with one another. For 60 major cities worldwide, it lists the most popular restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, seasonal resorts, major events, parties, exhibitions, film and music festivals and sporting events.
  • Classmates - like a growing number of sites, this is geared to finding people through their past school affiliations. See this and others on our separate college- and alumni-geared networking portals list on our college recruiting resources page
  • Doostang - Launched by a couple of twentysomething CompSci grads in summer 2005, this is structured very much like LinkedIn but doesn't have a paid membership tier yet.
  • Ecademy - This UK-based business contacts oriented portal has a recruiting section called Ecademy Resourcing
  • Evite - the electronic invitation service owned by media mogul Barry Diller's InterActiveCorp (which also owns ZeroDegrees--see below) added tools in Nov. 2003 to let people create personal profiles and publicly list events to be held offline
  • Facebook - like a growing number of sites, this is geared to finding people through their past school affiliations. See this and others on our separate college- and alumni-geared networking portals list on our college recruiting resources page. Faces and Flickr (latter bought in 2005 by Yahoo) have a similar idea: let people upload their photos and use that as a springboard to start connecting (scrapbooking, chatting, blogging, to enhance family, dating or professional networking). Flickr pioneered the bonus of optional tagging (adding metadata as captions) to each photo, making things easier to find for researchers, as well as more interesting content.
  • Friendster - free virtual pickup joint that's got critical mass
  • Friendzy - a smaller virtual party site than Friendster, and geared to a younger demographic, started October 2003 by two Dallas brothers
  • GovNet - free virtual pickup joint that's got critical mass
  • Huminity "6-Degree Chat" is a free Instant Messenger that features social networking and the ability to navigate animated maps of connections and view the links of friends between you and anyone else
  • ItsNotWhatYouKnow - another business, career and social networking site that prefers to refer to itself by the acronym INWYK (pronounced in-week).
  • Jobster - the first virtual networking portal that's primarily geared to boosting the relationship between recruiters and job-seekers. However, LinkedIn (see below) recently launched job posting-dissemination networking functionality that competes with Jobster.
  • Konnects is another business and career networking site; this demo explains it well.
  • LinkedIn - Like Ryze, LinkedIn targets business users, but with better advanced search functionality, and for now, the category leader: Over 25 million members and still growing fast.
  • LinkSiliconValley lets you do advanced search to find people at companies in Silicon Valley
  • Meetup - to find events in the real world and hobnob with people who share your interests
  • MixerMixer - personal networking portal in a similar subcategory with Ryze and Spoke (see below)
  • Ning offers free functionality to create your own niche social network, offering blogging and other bidirectional group communication tools. A robust example of a site using it in a recruiting industry context is RecruitingBlogs.
  • Orkut - Created by Google, and very popular in Portuguese-speaking countries.
  • RealContacts - This New Zealand-based company first went live with an introductions and dating public beta service in 2001, and the lessons learned went into launching their first commercial service, RealContacts Jobs, in May 2002. Its goal is to create a worldwide online employment service for permanent or temporary jobs, which brings employers and job seekers together through their extended network of contacts. Dependent on lining up partners, future applications include getting advice on good (and bad) products and services, building teams and consortiums for projects, and buying, selling, and trading goods and equipment.
  • Reunion.com - like a growing number of sites, this is geared to finding people through their past school affiliations (you can dig to the town level to find schools). See this and others on our separate college- and alumni-geared networking portals list on our college recruiting resources page.
  • Ryze - personal networking tool that automatically suggests compatible matches and emails who's added links to your profile, etc. In a similar subcategory to Ryze and Spoke.
  • SelectMinds - Geared to setting up restricted-access corporate alumni networks for individual organizations with a lot of related functionality. See this and others on our separate college- and alumni-geared networking portals list on our college recruiting resources page.
  • Socialtext - Different than the others, this is more of a groupware program that allows for post-event collaboration as well.
  • Sossoon - a "platform for Networking and Events Management," offering a hosted (ASP model) integrated service to set up your own social network for events, HR services, closed networks for professionals or other implementations where networking is required, also facilitating payments.
  • Spoke - requires you download Spoke client which is compatible with most email programs (see article about it by Business 2.0 magazine)
  • TheNamesDatabase - Boostrapped by a couple of programmers, this site's simple interface and structure apparently scales well. Their database has over 17 million names as of fall 2005.
  • Tribe.net - create your own free "tribe" centered on any topic, or list items for sale
  • Upcoming.org - Same concept as Meetup (see above)
  • Wallop - Microsoft's research project in social networks, launched in 2003 and still in experimental mode.
  • Xing (formerly openBC) is currently the largest European player in the business networking space (in member count, Ecademy is behind), and lets you search business contacts by current or past companies, industry, interests, clubs/organizations, schools, job title or work style (entrepreneur, employee or freelancer). You network via private messaging and can control who can and cannot contact you. View new members, new logins, who's viewed your profile, who's near you, etc., and easily create shared events (fee-based to use most functionality).
  • ZeroDegrees - Like Spoke, they offer an optional download that allows your Microsoft Outlook contacts to be integrated. Like Evite (see above), it was bought by media mogul Barry Diller's IAC in March 2004.
Also consider the leading enterprise version tools in this category (i.e., your organization can have it installed so all contacts, etc., among your employees can be incorporated into the social network -- with various levels of privacy built in to avoid "big brother" accusations). Though geared primarily to sales/marketing purposes, recruiting should be able to take advantage. Of course, these aren't free: All of these integrate with SalesForce.com, but the official partners list doesn't include all because only some pay for that exposure.

In contrast, Internet recruiting columnist Peter Weddle recommends in a recent column not so much to go to other sites to network, but rather "interact with great prospects right in the comforts of your own Web-site....The single best way to win the War for the Best Talent online is to network at your own corporate career site....Create a discussion forum or bulletin board on your own site that stimulates, informs, entertains and educates the best and brightest in key career fields and they will come (and, even better, bring their friends and colleagues) by the hundreds or even thousands. Huddle with the hiring managers who most need this talent and ask that they select 'A' level performers to moderate the forums and/or bulletin boards you set up on your site. Then, devote the first thirty minutes of your day to reading the posts to see who stands out and to interacting with those prospects privately to pre-qualify and pre-sell them. The return on that 2-1/2 hour investment each week will dramatically enhance the quality of the candidates you recruit and lower your cost of doing so."

This is an abbreviated version of the corresponding content from our popular Advanced Online Recruiting Techniques course, explaining methods and resources applicable to recruiting in any industry, function, geography or level. Learn more about or register for our live seminar or online course! Or return to free sample content.

Copyright 1997-1998 Glenn Gutmacher. Copyright 1999 - Recruiting-Online.com. All rights reserved. No copying or redistribution without written permission. Email to request.