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The Key Differences Between Networking Sites

Sep 1, 2008
The rise in networking sites in the UK for business purposes has given us the ability to network fellow professionals and proactively make valuable business connections. However, with an endless stream of new sites coming up weekly how do we know which ones will be most useful for our needs? Some are useful for attending events and some for plain networking, an extension of our outlook address books.

Here are just some of the sites you can review: linkedin, xing, word of mouse, plaxo, naymz, blue chip expert, fastpitch, ecademy.... You see this list seems to grow weekly.

Well how do you know which one is best??

It's difficult that's for sure, and to find the time to research and use each one is just not possible.

Firstly and foremost, you need to define what you require and what you want to get out of using a networking site. Each one has its own nuances and benefits. In my opinion, two you should join would be linkedin and ecademy; you could say these were the mainstream sites (akin to monster) in the job board world.

These two sites differ; linkedin is really more focused on your personal profile within a company etc, ecademy really more focused on promoting your own business if you are a sole trader/company owner looking for new clients. Both in turn create good exposure.

As for all the other sites I will evaluate these further in my next article, but as a teaser they are much more niche but also can serve a purpose.



- A good robust site, intuitive design aimed at the mainstream market
- Great for promoting your background and experience whilst not appearing to be looking for a job
- Good features including in-mails whereby you can directly contact people
- Good for pro-active job seekers
- Getting in contact with recruiters in your field
- The ability to use or remove as many features as you want
- Good for networking in the UK with a wide user base of professionals at all levels
- Access to direct company adverts on the site
- New feature on company profiles allows you to view a company's history and key execs


- Overused by recruiters
- Often people have their private email attached to alerts, meaning contacting new people can take weeks/months
- The Q&A section is pointless, offering little benefits
- A little impersonal, more like the monster website aka mainstream to the networking world
- Predominately an American base still but heavy growth in UK adoption



- Good for European based businesses and connections
- Good features and layout, easy to use and connect with other networkers


- Very European focused, especially German
- More smaller/SME organisations means job hunting through the site and making the right connections in the UK difficult



- Good for looking for networking events
- Gives you a SEO presence if you are a smaller business by allowing you to add meta titles/tags
- Great for small companies/sole traders to advertise their services
- Good forums adding real value to serious business questions, especially again for entrepreneurs starting out
- It's partnered with a leading job board meaning you can search 1000's of jobs
- Much more of a networking site than Linkedin. You make connections with people to develop knowledge and add value; Linkedin is much more of an extended outlook address book


- Better for people in small businesses
- Unlike Linkedin, you have to really use the site to get its benefits. It's unlikely you will get much out of it if you aren't using for at least half an hour a day
- The design and intuitiveness not as strong as others blackstar membership seems to be unnecessary unless you take networking very seriously

Naymz & Plaxo

These two sites are very niche; the features they offer are not as extensive as the 3 above. You tend to just replicate the information.
- Naymz is mainly about building a reputation network, whereby you are a valued expert through recommendations.
Seems a very confusing and non-user friendly site.
- Plaxo is just a more feature rich way to store email addresses and numbers, with many new features alike to Linkedin. Neither are worth paying for subscriptions, and both have predominately US users

Blue chip expert

A novel way to build a network and if anyone hires through it you are rewarded. No real value other than that. It's US focused and rather convoluted as a way to network, but if you on the off chance just want to use it and see if you can make money have a go. Especially is you have several colleagues in your network in hiring positions


Similar to ecademy but this focuses on providing a real targeted and quick pitch of your business to the wider world. Very much like giving a 30 second pitch to new people you meet face2face but in an electronic format.
Good idea but not sure of its longevity and user adoption in the UK to get business from it.
About the Author
Edwin Abl is a Director of Consegna UK which is a specialist recruitment agency which sources candidates through referrals and social networking for the Management Consultancy and Technology sectors.
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