6 Professional Networking Sites: LinkedIn Alternatives

Reid Trier
Posted by Reid Trier on September 2, 2021
professional networking online

B2B salespeople need a variety of platforms to assist in prospect research, lead generation, outreach, and recruiting — and the more verticals you operate in, the more possibilities you likely need. 

Let’s face it; LinkedIn is king when it comes to connecting with other B2B professionals, so the professional networking sites we’ll share about here may not be your first thought for prospecting. However, each has unique characteristics and community traits. 

We’re outlining our top six B2B professional social media platforms to help you connect with industry decision-makers and keep up with trending topics, news, and events your industrial targets care about.

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. Meetup
  4. Quora
  5. Slack
  6. Wistia

1. FACEBOOK

As the world’s largest social media platform, Facebook is not as professionally driven as LinkedIn, or even Twitter. However, it does contain some beneficial applications that you should leverage regardless of industry. You even have the capability to create Events pages to promote your upcoming webinars, workshops, trade show appearances, job fairs, or other happenings. From photos and infographics to Groups, discussion boards and trending topics, Facebook is great for building your reputation and digital visibility. 

facebook groups for professional networking

To explore other Groups, Find the Facebook Groups icon on the left toolbar while on your desktop, or tap the Menu when using the mobile app. You can filter by category such as “Business” or search to find relevant groups that will help you connect with others and form more professional relationships in your industry, discuss topics of interest, and share helpful links, news, and materials.

Facebook Live is a live streaming feature that allows companies to connect in real time with their audience by hosting Q&A sessions, presenting how-to videos, broadcasting from an event, and receiving feedback and questions all in real time. While Facebook Live is most popular from mobile devices, you can also Broadcast to Facebook Live from your Mac or PC.

2. TWITTER

Surprisingly, Twitter is more professionally based than you may think. Twitter is a fantastic network for building relationships with people in a variety of capacities. For example, if there’s a specific hashtag for a conference you're attending, use it in your tweets to see who else is engaging so you can meet up with them during lunch or breaks.

networking-event-tweet-example

You can connect with other professionals around the world on a daily basis by following trending hashtags and topics within your industry. And be sure to follow industry leaders who likely tweet and retweet noteworthy topics and events.

Twitter is also known for its fast-paced urgency to uncover current trends and topics as they arise by the minute across the world. That being said, in order to network and contribute to conversations within your network, you should regularly engage and post relevant and useful tweets on your personal and company accounts.

Similar to Facebook Live, Twitter also has a live streaming feature.

3. MEETUP

While many of these online platforms are focused on connecting with other professionals online, Meetup is unique in that it focuses on connecting people initially online to later meet “in person.” While digital networking is convenient and instantaneous, sometimes it’s much more beneficial to connect with other professionals in person, or virtually one-on-one through Zoom and other online meeting platforms.

Meetup professional networking platform

You can specify the meetings you are interested in by topic, location, and date. If there’s nothing happening around you, create your own event and invite other professionals by email or Facebook to be part of a make-shift think tank, or share a link to other networking platforms. 

Once you’ve gathered a group of like-minded professionals, you might find it beneficial to have regular meetings with varying topics to further build your network and expand your industry-specific knowledge.

4. QUORA

Quora is a knowledge-sharing website that allows anyone to ask and answer questions posted to the site. People can then engage with (like, comment, share, etc.) and share the post to other social media platforms and via email. In addition to specific questions, you can search for general topics like “manufacturing” or “manufacturing in the USA.” It can be helpful to get more specific with topics like “equipment manufacturing” or “paper equipment manufacturers in the Midwest” and see what others are discussing. 

This is a fantastic way to see what your prospects and customers are thinking about and the challenges they face, while providing an opportunity for you to be helpful in answering their questions.

example Quora discussion on B2B supply chain

Quora is a great way to have lengthy, in-depth conversations with other thought leaders about niche topics. By viewing someone’s personal profile, you can see what other questions they’ve asked or responses they’ve given to questions, plus what other topics a person is knowledgeable about.

5. SLACK

Wait…what?! Slack is more than a messenger app to communicate and collaborate with coworkers and business partners? Yes, there are communities of like-minded professionals that discuss a huge variety of subjects via Slack.

The main difference with Slack is that it’s a messenger-based mobile or desktop app, not browser-based. So, each community has multiple public threads with the option of sending direct messages to anyone in that community. The challenge with that is you may get distracted by instant messages and notifications (which you can adjust to your preferences).

professional slack communities

Want to see what these Slack communities cover? Simply Google a topic that interests you plus “Slack community.” We did this for inbound marketing, so the search was “inbound marketing + Slack community.” For example, if you’re looking to connect with and expand your knowledge about SEO and digital marketing, you could check out the Online Geniuses Slack Community for Marketers.

6. WISTIA

While not exactly a networking community in itself, video is one of the most valuable content tools that is vastly underutilized by B2B companies, and it is exploding as the leading medium in content marketing. We simply couldn’t leave this tool off the list because it’s so powerful for networking and communicating with prospects and existing customers. 

Video content is crucial in industries often labeled as complex — manufacturing and industrials, for example — that help attract and convert leads. Video is a great opportunity to attract prospects (show off product features or walk through a process) as well as convert leads by featuring company leadership or customer testimonials.

Likewise, video is a critical tool for recruiting skilled labor. In today’s tight labor market, companies need to leverage every tool they can to stand out among their competitors when promoting job opportunities. Video doesn’t just tell job seekers about your company; it shows them.

Wistia offers business-specific video hosting, marketing tools, and analytics. One of their most popular software tools is called Soapbox, which makes it easy for anyone (seriously, we proved it) to record professional-looking videos that companies can affordably create, share, and track. From thoughtful sales videos for prospects to something quick to keep connected to a current customer, Soapbox allows you to present information and receive feedback without asking a viewer to make a specified time commitment. That said, Soapbox currently is only available using the latest version of Chrome. Other online video tools like Vidyard (a similar platform) might work better in other browsers that your personas and customers use.

In addition to Soapbox for video communication, Wistia also hosts an online community (on Slack, go figure) called Brand Affinity Marketing where marketers can share tips and insights on building a loveable brand, connecting with their audience, and forming meaningful relationships with one another. 

Wistia brand affinity marketing community for professional networking

Yes, LinkedIn is the most popular professional networking platform. Yet, other options have specific strengths that approach networking in different and meaningful ways. Some are better for making professional connections locally or within unique niches. It’s worth your time to go beyond LinkedIn and explore your possibilities.

Looking for more ways to improve your company's social media efforts? Get our complete guide to Social Media for Complex B2B Industries with lots of ideas and insights to bring your online presence to a new level.

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