When it comes to your job search, there's no question that networking is a key step toward success. That old adage, "It's all about who you know," holds true: The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking, so having that friend-of-a-friend who's connected to your dream company can really give you a leg up.
While LinkedIn is among the most popular and well-known networking tools for job seekers, it's far from the only way to find and connect with professionals who can help you land a new gig. Here are five alternative networking sites and apps you can use as part of your search.
Beyond.com calls itself "The Career Network," and it's easy to see why: Since 1998, this site has helped connect millions of job seekers with companies that are looking for candidates with their expertise and skills. The company offers job seekers access to its network of more than 500 industry-organized talent communities across the country so they can pinpoint an open position in the exact field and location they want.
In addition to listing career opportunities, Beyond.com provides members with original curated career content from more than 1,400 sources, so users can find the advice and resources that are most relevant to them. [Networking Tips for Job Seekers]
Facebook is typically viewed as a place to stay in touch with friends and family members, but it's also a great tool for growing your professional network — and, with any luck, landing a job. The problem is, Facebook's platform isn't necessarily designed for finding the professionals you want to connect with. Enter BranchOut, a Facebook application that uses your account to find "inside connections" based on your existing friends.
Once you log into BranchOut with Facebook, you can showcase your professional brand to the app's 30 million-plus users in more than 200 countries. The photos and posts you choose to share on BranchOut can highlight your skills, accomplishments and professional knowledge. If you're looking for a specific connection, you can use the app to search by person, company name or job title.
A newcomer to the social media scene, Jobcase launched in April 2015 to give job seekers the opportunity to create a comprehensive profile that shows off their most important and relevant information for recruiters. In addition to work experience and education, you can also list a personal summary, your work preferences (i.e., willingness to relocate, preferred job location, salary range), personal traits, volunteer work and other career-appropriate information.
While LinkedIn allows some of these more nuanced information categories, the advantage of Jobcase is that it powers more than 100 existing job-listing websites. This means that users have access to a wider range of employers and opportunities associated with those sites. CEO Frederick Goff explained in a statement that Jobcase's goal is to put the company's data analytics experience to work and create a community-oriented, all-in-one platform for all things job- related.
Some of the best networking happens in person. Email exchanges and phone calls are good for initial conversations, but making a lasting impression is usually best accomplished with a face-to-face conversation. But today's busy professionals don't always have time to attend networking events — instead, you can use LunchMeet to find interesting professionals to meet with over coffee, lunch or drinks, on your schedule.
The app, which is built on LinkedIn's API, allows you to input your personal availability and location. You can then search for other LinkedIn users in the area you're interested in, connecting with and invite them to meet you at a mutually convenient time and place. The in-app map and messaging service make it easy to find a location and coordinate details with your contact, and you can also automatically add the meeting to your iOS calendar.
Volley is not your typical networking tool. This query-based platform, similar to Quora and Yahoo! Answers, gives members in the developer, designer and entrepreneurial communities the opportunity to share specific help requests and to find the answers within their extended social networks. When a request is posted, a Volley member can answer it directly or refer the asker to a person he or she knows who can help.
Unlike other help sites that operate on the basis of anonymity, Volley fosters real connections between people who know each other and can provide the best answers based on the context of the situation. Real identities are required to post and answer Volley requests, so you'll know you're getting a legitimate person on the other end. Not all Volley requests are related to careers, but the site is frequently used by employers and job seekers alike to connect the right candidate to the right position.