Networking is a critical tool in a small business owner's tool chest. By networking, businesses find new customers and new suppliers. And as Virgin's own Richard Branson says, some jobs require expertise that you're missing, and networking is the only way to find someone who can help you get the job done right.
Professional networking events are a long-standing means of meeting other business owners, but they limit you to your immediate geographical area (and to other entrepreneurs who happen to have the same evenings free). LinkedIn is a great resource for connections, but there is a gap in connecting with those close to you, plus a lack of insight as to why someone is leveraging the networking platform.
The space between in-person networking events and LinkedIn is the territory that Bumble Bizz wants to claim as its own. But what is Bumble Bizz? What does it provide? And it is right for small business owners?
What is Bumble Bizz?
Bumble Bizz is an extension of the popular dating app, Bumble. You need only to download the iOS or Android app to your phone and then select Bizz mode. Bumble has another offshoot called BFF for people looking for a new best friend.
Bumble has recognized that our important relationships – from dating to meeting new friends, to finding new jobs and professional mentors – share common elements. We want to meet people who share common goals and values and with whom we can build solid connections.
Bumble's CEO, Whitney Wolf Herd, was a co-founder of the infamous dating app Tinder. After leaving Tinder, she took what she'd learned from that experience and created Bumble, a dating app that requires women to make the first move.
While Bumble started as a dating app, the management team has made it clear that professional networking was always on the road map.
Bumble isn't looking to replace sites like LinkedIn. Instead, the app is designed to fill a gap it sees in the networking space. Because of the app's existing geolocation features, it's easier to find professional connections that are local to you. And the app is focused on what you're looking for when networking, as opposed to LinkedIn, where it's difficult to tell what others are using the site for.
And while Bumble Bizz uses the same functionality as the Bumble dating app, it won't look like you're trying to find a life partner while seeking a professional mentor. Although it is housed in the same app, you can use Bumble Bizz without showing up on the dating site.
Is Bumble Bizz right for small business owners?
The app is still pretty new, but because of the focused features, it appears poised to be a breakout tool for entrepreneurs. It's easy for small business owners to get lost in the sea of potential connections available with LinkedIn (and for them to be easily ignored between the job seekers and larger companies all vying for attention).
But because Bumble Bizz is specifically focused on individual connections, networking is an integral part of the experience. For small business owners, this is ideal. Networking directly with other business owners in your area that are looking for mentors/mentees, other entrepreneurs, or even a specific skill set becomes quick and easy with features like the ability to swipe right and left.
Bizz lets users add verified photos, digital resumes, a skills section and examples of your work. The company is quick to point out, however, that the app is not for job searching or recruiting. It's for networking exclusively.
One thing to note – Bumble Bizz, like its sibling, Bumble – is a female-first application, meaning that women must make the first move when establishing a connection with other members. This should reduce or eliminate some of the inappropriate messages some female entrepreneurs have reported with other networking applications. It will be interesting to see how this feature affects connections as Bumble Bizz matures as a professional networking app.