2018’s Best Online Professional Networking Platforms
Which Should You Use?

 

Looking for ways to build and grow your professional network is a constant struggle for fast-paced business professionals. Knowing which online platform to use can make it even more difficult. We break it down for you and identify the key pro’s and con’s of today’s trending web-based Professional Networking Platforms, to help you pick out the right one for you.

 

1. Connequity

If you’re looking for hyper-targeted professional networking that helps you meet new referrals, leads, and clients, Connequity’s automated platform will help you network more efficiently.

From a large national member base, Connequity uses multilevel matching criteria to find professionals you want to do business with and delivers them right to your inbox. It allows you to choose matching criteria for both referral partners and clients to maximize all opportunities in your business network. As you’re making new connections, you can also introduce your current contacts to new professionals by way of “Referral Introduction” within the platform. You can sync your Outlook, Gmail, and email contacts with your profile to make it your one-stop-shop for meeting new professionals and building your existing professional network. A mobile app version isn’t available yet but you can still access it through your phone’s internet browser.
It’s an excellent online networking option for senior to executive level professionals needing efficient, targeted business connections. Connequity has free and paid plan options for individual and corporate budgets.

 

2. Shapr

If you’re just looking for a new relevant business friend, or a mentor, or hiring, Shapr offers a simple app where you can casually contact local professionals.

Currently, Shapr is only available as a mobile app and works similar to Tinder using limited matching criteria and basic messaging to meet professionals within your immediate local area. It’s quick swipe and messaging feature make it fast and easy to potentially meet up with someone, but its limited local geo-targeting restricts you to just your area. It’s not the right option if you need to find people far beyond your physical location. It’s messaging works well for short initial greetings but is not suited for creating a central communication hub to contact professionals in your network. There is a free plan where your match searches are limited and success relies heavily on physically meeting up with each potential match.

 

3. Opportunity

If you’re looking for services beyond networking, Opportunity provides options for sales leads, job leads, hiring, and even dating.

Opportunity’s platform options are best suited for sales, human resource professionals and recruiters who want a range of prospecting options. Their basic and limited free professional networking plan leaves little to be gained for individual professionals. It provides more matching and targeting criteria than Shapr, but heavily insists on importing your LinkedIn connections to yield better results. However, users have had the exact opposite effect when importing their LinkedIn connections. This had resulted in “spamming” their connections and damaging users’ reputations with their LinkedIn connections, leaving some worse off than when they started.

 

4. Alignable

If you’re looking for professional networking specifically for local small businesses and owners, Alignable offers a yellow-book type platform with communication tools.


Alignable has become a small-business focused platform that combines industry community chat-boards with a directory of professionals and services. Unlike Connequity, it’s targeting is less focused on individual professionals’ criteria and can encompass search results from a variety of businesses – they can range from nail salons to realtors. It’s ideal for smaller to medium-sized businesses looking to connect locally with owners in specific industries. Alignable has both free and paid plans options.

 

5. ReferralKey

If you’re looking for professional networking through directory searches and chat boards, ReferralKey allows you to search through their network and participate for free.

Similar to Alignable, they host a searchable directory and chat boards but lack the core professional matching automation that Connequity provides. ReferralKey relies on the user’s own contacts for finding referrals and does ask you to upload your LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter contacts to get started. Similar to Opportunity, there have been negative consequences for users who uploaded their LinkedIn network. If you’re just looking for a database of professionals and want to participate in chat boards this is an option for you. However, you may find yourself sorting through a long list of professionals from all career levels and industries.

 

Professional Networking Takeaways

All of the professional networking platforms have free plans and each is best suited for different goals and networking interaction.
For busy, mid to executive level professionals, Connequity is going to be the best choice for automating your professional networking and search for leads, referrals, and clients, both locally and nationally. It also allows you to track and keep a consistent communication hub between your existing and new found professional connections.
If you just need a casual or one-time business connection, Shapr’s geo-targeted matching criteria and messaging will make finding someone close by fast and easy to meet.
If you’re in human resources, recruiting or sales for your company, Opportunity’s platform may be the professional networking hub to suit your needs. For those who will utilize more than one range of its services, you may see worth-while results as long as you spend the time, money, and effort on this platform.
If you’re looking for a range of small businesses and own your business, Alignable may be a great networking tool for you to build connections and klout in your local industry.
If you have the time to search through directories of professionals and like to engage in professional chat boards, ReferralKey is a free option for you.

Try out the best option for your professional networking needs and see how an automated platform such as Connequity could enhance your business.

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