You might use Hinge to look for a special someone or Fitbit to track your health goals, but have you ever thought of using the apps for career building? Platforms that are meant for social connection could also help your professional advancement, says Jeff Steen, special projects editor for FitSmallBusiness.com.
“A lot of the traditional business networking platforms are becoming saturated,” says Steen. “With LinkedIn, everyone is interested in business, and the platform crosses all industries, making it more difficult to readily connect unless you get a referral. What is missing is a niche focus.”
It’s no wonder, then, that people are finding success on other sites. FitSmallBusiness.com made a list of the most surprising social platforms you can use for business networking in 2019, which included everything from Reddit, to Goodreads, to AncestryDNA.
Why would these platforms work for business?
Platforms that are intended for social networking can bring people together around a common interest or passion, and sometimes that can tie into your professional career, says Steen.
“It’s a jumping-off point for a discussion about career opportunities,” he says. “It’s a different way to do business networking by focusing on the niche.” For example, TikTok users create content and share it in a way similar to YouTube.
“YouTube is saturated, and you can get more exposure with TikTok,” says Steen. “It’s a great opportunity for music producers to create and share content, and a sizable community has grown organically around that. The platform can offer a way to gain exposure from people in the industry—people who have sway. It’s easy for conversations to happen because there’s a specific interest or content type.”
With a dating app, like Hinge or Tinder, you’re not producing content, but there can be a natural progression in a conversation to your career. “‘What do you do?’ is usually one of the first questions you ask when getting to know someone,” says Steen. “This can overlap into professional conversations, even if no romantic interest is established.”
While business networking isn’t the primary focus of dating apps, Steel says the people at Bumble have recognized that users are using the opportunity in their professional lives as well. “They’ve decided to take it to the next level and launched Bumble Bizz,” he says. “It developed organically out of the pairing of interests and the commonalities that are found when you’re searching for a dating partner.”
Another example of an app with crossover potential is Goodreads. It’s a great place for writers to network and connect with readers to determine trends in the market, says Steen. “You can learn what are people interested in. Not just topics, but style and length. This can help you determine what you should work on yourself so you can map your next project.”
Fitbit is a good app if you’re in the fitness space, says Steen. “You can learn what resonates with people and what their pain points or challenges are,” he says.
To make these apps work, Steen says it’s best to stick to the primary purpose of the app. “Don’t set up an account if all you want is to business network,” he says. “If you find an opportunity to connect, take advantage of it and see where it takes you.”
And be on the lookout for the next networking platform, suggests Steen. “New apps pop up every day, and they’re becoming more niche-focused,” he says. “As this happens it creates more opportunity to use them for targeting similar interests, professional and personal.”