When it comes to networking online, you'd be crazy to ignore the major players like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. However, smaller-but-mighty sites can augment your job search by connecting you to local professional colleagues, giving you access to discussions led by experts, and alerting you to opportunities that fit your criteria. So, here are some we think are worth checking out.
Reddit is a sprawling site basically comprised of numerous theme-related groups ("subreddits") and conversation threads. It can feel a bit overwhelming at first glance, but that's because it's just so jam-packed with information and opportunities to connect. Enter your job-related search terms ("How do I become a dental assistant?" "How do you get a job at Google?"), and then dive into threads of answers from super knowledgeable Reddit community members.
You can also join "subreddits," which are groups dedicated to specific topics (such as "game development" or even a place, i.e. "Chicago Jobs"), where you can follow threads related to your field, and connect with other users. Another useful feature: Reddit's Ask Me Anything (AMA) threads where experts volunteer to answer any and all pertinent questions from other users.
But beware: Longtime Reddit users don't take kindly to blatant self-promotion or marketing. "You do not want to be the bad guy on Reddit," says Steven Varjabedian, the interactive director at Triple Frog, a Connecticut-based digital branding and development agency that has used Reddit to hire interns. "Be willing to add to the conversation with thoughtful comments, and even to be vulnerable when asking for job advice."
Meetup is great for helping users connect and network on a hyper-local level. Head to their "Career & Business" channel to find local industry-specific networking and discussion groups. Then attend live or online events, or simply be in communication with other members regarding potential opportunities. Can't find a group centered around your interest or field in your area? Meetup can walk you through starting one, attracting members and hosting events.
Calling all creatives! If you work (or want to) in visual design fields such as graphic design, illustrating, typography, photography, logo creation and branding, cinematography, architecture, etc., you need a Behance portfolio. A profile enables you to showcase your work on a gorgeous, top-notch platform, and tracks how many people have viewed and 'appreciated' your work.
It also makes it easy to connect with colleagues worldwide and displays your contact info for employers. There's also an active job board packed with postings for both remote work and full-time positions, and live tutorials (which are archived and available for free) with top experts.
Ladies, this one is for you. This platform aims to connect top companies and innovative start-ups to female and underrepresented candidates. It also offers career guidance for women via online webinars, chats with women leaders from top-tier companies, virtual job fairs, a mentorship program and career coaching (for a fee). Users can search for jobs by industry and location, or generate leads for remote opportunities. There are also weekly emails that deliver curated job postings directly to your inbox.
"It's more intimate to connect with a recruiter after a webinar or online chat on a smaller platform," says Terri White, who's based in North Carolina and using Power to Fly to seek a product management position. "You also get exposed to more organizations looking for your skillset, which can complement the job searching you're already doing on bigger websites."
Even with a robust LinkedIn profile, you might not know which of your contacts is looking to hire someone with your skills — and hiring managers might not know that you are available. Opportunity addresses this by sending you alerts every time there is a job posting that requires your skills, and alerts hiring managers when you are looking for a new opportunity.
You can instruct the site to match you with jobs in your area, or anywhere in the world. There's a one-click apply feature and the possibility to link out to your LinkedIn profile so potential employers can check out your full employment history.
Moms looking to return to the workforce face unique challenges, such as needing flexible work hours and finding companies that are family-friendly. These membership-only platforms facilitate this by partnering with companies that offer flexible, often remote positions. They also get you in contact with a vetted, targeted pool of potential employers and qualified colleagues.
"LinkedIn is a fantastic tool," says Gina Hadley, the co-founder of The Second Shift. "But nobody has to prove anything they're claiming or posting on it. A smaller, closed platform ensures you're actually adding valuable connections to your network and getting access to jobs that would work for you."