We live in an age where a big bulk of our social interaction happens online. Social media platforms provide a fantastic opportunity to network and grow your career from the comfort of your desk. Although face-to-face interaction is still important, social networking has made it easy to reach audiences and connect with similar-minded individuals in ways that wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago.

No matter what field of work you are in, professional networking platforms offer a way to find and communicate with potential partners, employers and customers. In order to get the most out of your professional networking experience, it is important to choose the right platform to fit your needs. And while LinkedIn remains the most popular networking site for professionals today, there are several other alternatives you might want to consider. Here is an overview of some of the most popular options to get you started.

1. LinkedIn

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LinkedIn is by far the largest and most well-known professional networking platform on the Web, with over 225 million members in more than 200 countries. Your LinkedIn profile page functions as your resume or business card that is easy to keep up to date. Because almost everyone who uses the Internet to grow their career sings up for a LinkedIn profile, chances are your colleagues, employers and partners will be easy to find and keep in touch with.

When you sign up for a free account, you enter information regarding your work experience, skills and professional interests to be displayed on your page. The more information you provide, the more you can get out of your LinkedIn membership. Others can find you by searching for a specific skill set that you possess, or by looking for people who work in a similar field in their area. The advanced search functionality that LinkedIn offers makes this platform valuable for all sorts of professionals.

LinkedIn will also suggest people to connect with based on your existing relationships and professional interests. Whether you are looking for a job or looking to hire, LinkedIn provides the search tools necessary to find the right person. Overall, with its extensive search capabilities and networking opportunities, any career-minded individual can benefit from having a LinkedIn account. Basic membership is free, while a Premium account will provide you with more advanced features starting at $19.95 per month.

2. VisualCV

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VisualCV is a platform for designing and sharing your resume online. VisualCV is ideal for those who are looking for work online, as it allows you to build an engaging CV that can include audio, video and digital portfolio on a single page. You can share your information privately with only those you choose, or publicly, making it possible for employers to find you. Everyone who has ever applied for a job knows that in order to be successful, you have to tailor your resume to the position you are applying for, highlighting certain skills that you possess and that would come in handy in a that position.

The great thing about VisualCV is that it lets you create multiple resumes, each with its unique security setting so that you can broaden your job search and improve your chances of being hired. You can share your VisualCV with individuals and companies by sending them a link to your resume or posting it on a job site. You can also interact with companies who have their own VisualCV profiles and search for jobs directly on the site. Although the social networking side is not as developed on this platform, VisualCV is a great way to have your professional information available online. The service is free.

3. PartnerUp

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PartnerUp is an online community that is focused on bringing businesses and small entrepreneurs together. You can use the site to look for job openings, hire employees or find commercial real estate. It’s also a great platform for promoting your business and building relationships with potential partners.

PartnerUp is proud of its community, where you can participate in discussions relevant to your business, get your questions answered and develop relationships with other members. Searching for a job with a startup or a small business is easy, and the system will even match your skills and interests and suggest posted opportunities that you are qualified for.

You can post opportunities and interact with individuals that will help you grow your business. All you need to do to get started is create a free profile and fill it out with the information you want to share. Apart from your skills and interests, your profile displays your activity in the PartnerUp forum, a list of your partners and links you choose to share. In general, PartnerUp is a great free way for small business owners and entrepreneurs to connect with other professionals in order to expand their business.

4. Opprtunity

opprtunity

Opprtunity is a platform that uses a scientific approach to match professionals with opportunities to do business. Not necessarily a social network in itself, Opprtunity is a tool that connects you to people you don’t know. If you have a LinkedIn profile, you can use it to log in to Opprtunity, and the site will automatically create a profile for you using the information, images and location you provided on LinkedIn. You can also sign up using your email.

Opprtunity gives you suggestions based on what exactly you are looking for, whether it is finding sales leads, job opportunities or job candidates. As part of the sign-up process, you select the skills that you offer from more than 500 options. Opprtunity then looks for matches based on what you need and notifies you about them through your inbox or mobile phone, providing you with multiple ways to contact the person you were matched with, including email, phone or Skype.

One of the advantages of having an Opprtunity profile is that you don’t need to update it as long as you keep your LinkedIn page current. Opprtunity is not searchable, meaning that you have to rely on the automated service to bring your relevant results. You get three leads per month within a 25 mile radius of your location with a free service, while premium membership plans offer an unlimited number of leads in a wider area starting at $29.95 per month.

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