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Best Professional Social Networking Sites for Businesses and Entrepreneurs

Updated on October 30, 2012

Best Online Social Networking Sites for Entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur (whether online or offline), it is absolutely crucial for you to have an online presence. It is through this presence that you make business contacts, promote your work and spread the reach of what you're doing beyond the confines of your own hometown. There are many methods of developing this online presence including using blog promotion, social media press releases and general marketing strategies. However, the most important method is to develop a strong network of connections through online social networking sites.

Because there are now so many different online networking sites out there, it can be hard to figure out which are the best ones specifically for promoting your entrepreneurial work. Here are some of the sites that you absolutely need to be active on - as well as a few that may or may not work for you depending on your business niche:

1. LinkedIn. This is a general professional social networking site which is important to be active on because of its sheer popularity. The diversity of the types of people on this site is its biggest benefit as well as its biggest drawback. Luckily, there are a lot of features to make up for the problems of having such a broad network including a job search feature, an easy-to-use interface and a professional working atmosphere.

2. Facebook. This one doesn't require a whole lot of explanation since everyone you know is probably already on it (including yourself) but it bears mentioning because you really do need to be on this site to be established in the online world.

3. Gather. Gather is an online social networking site similar to Facebook in that there may be tons of different people on it. The difference here is that Gather is better at allowing you to easily find contacts and information about the topics that interest you most. This can be great for people who want to network within specific interest areas.

4. Ryze Networking. This social networking site is specifically designed as a network intended to assist you in expanding your circle of business contacts. The motto on this site is that it can be used to "build your network before you need it" which pretty much sums up the mentality of the majority of people working here.

5. Direct Matches. This is a social networking site that goes one step further and combines features of a matchmaking site to bring together business professionals with similar interests and goals. It is a site which is favored by the entrepreneurial professional who specifically works in the Web 2.0 world.

6. Xing. This is another great social networking site although it tends to be more popular overseas than in the United States. It's great for entrepreneurs who want to network at an international level with a relatively intimate group of online people.

7. Ecademy. This is a great professional social networking site. Its interface looks a little bit like the dashboard of remote collaboration software programs so it's a bit more geared towards the professional who works frequently online. The site also offers special deals to business people such as discounts on business cards.

8. YorZ. This is an interesting site because it's primarily a job search site where people can typically find professional job opportunities that aren't being advertised on major classifieds sites. However, it's also a professional social networking site for those employees and employers who are using the site for job searches.

9. Ziggs. This site takes an interesting approach which is to encourage its users to consider the Ziggs page to be a one-stop marketing tool for their image. This is exactly what your online networking profiles ought to be so it's great that there's a site out there designed specifically with this intention in mind. The downside is that not a lot of people are using this site in comparison with some of the others so you may find that your networking abilities on the site are rather limited.

10. Networking for Professionals. This site merges both online and offline social networking to create a business atmosphere that makes sense in the modern world. It's good for meeting new professionals as well as maintaining contact with people you already know. Unlike the other sites on this list, you have to pay a membership fee to join this one. That's a drawback if you're just a minimal user but it's a good thing if you're serious about networking because you'll be meeting others who are also serious about it.

11. Care2. This is a green social networking site so it's not one that's specifically geared towards business. However, it's increasingly important for all entrepreneurs to be able to show some commitment to being green. Doing so while also building up a social network isn't a bad idea.

12. Cake Financial. This is a niche social networking site specifically for people who are involved in investing in the stock market. It's a great place to meet others if you're involved in the finance industry as well as if you're an entrepreneur who wants some great insider tips on investing your money.

13. Plaxo. One thing that you'll discover after doing a lot of social networking is that there are levels to the people in your network. For those people that you want to maintain the closest, most private contact with, this social networking site is the best bet. It makes use of multi-media tools to keep you updated on what's going on with your network. It's ideal for entrepreneurs who want to share information about their work in small doses, starting with the people that their closest to in the business world.

14. NetParty. Some people are interested in social networking that will actually allow them to meet people in person. This is an online site that takes social networking and turns it up a notch by organizing events and parties for the people in the network. It's best for people who live in or work in the major cities of the United States since that's where events are concentrated. It's specifically designed for young professionals so if you're seeking to meet young folks with a passion for professional pursuits as well as for partying, it's a good place.


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