LinkedIn was the first social network I joined.
Before Facebook. Before Digg. (I never had a MySpace account, sorry.)
A friend I used to work with at The Miami Herald sent me an invitation to join his network. He wasn’t one for creating accounts any and everywhere, so I figured it was worth a look-see.
At first, I had a lame profile, barely filled out, but I was linking up with old colleagues and it was nice to catch up with folks I hadn’t talked to since college or my stints in Florida and Arizona. Eventually, it became a vital tool to use to connect with people I met at conferences, networking parties and other events.
And while I still believe LinkedIn is a vital tool for anyone who is serious about online networking, a couple of new business-focused social networks have sprung up of late that could – eventually – give LinkedIn a run for its money.
The Closed Network: Namesake
A friend got an invite to Namesake and was able to snag me one as well. For now, it’s an invitation-only, closed social network for entrepreneurs and digital denizens.
I’ll be honest here: I’m not 100 percent sold on it yet, but Namesake is intriguing.
It has some similarities to LinkedIn – it focuses on your professional life. You can follow people, add contacts as “industry contacts,” and post a version of your resume.
You can have conversations and they update in real-time. But unless you’re on Namesake at the moment, that doesn’t much matter.
A lot of people seem to wonder the same thing about Namesake, asking in various conversations, why Namesake exists, what makes it different than other networks. I’ll admit I have wondered the same.
This is why, however, I tend to be an early adopter and not a first adopter. There’s so much out there and everything seems cool and fun and different at first glance. So much fades away after not that much time, however, that I kind of let my friends and connections who are the first adopters separate the wheat from the chaff before I jump in.
Ah, the advantages of having friends who are OCD hipsters.
The differences were raised in sharp relief the other day, though, when someone asked about LinkedIn and whether people liked it. The consensus there was that it had its uses, but they were mostly passive. And that I couldn’t disagree with.
I just participated in the hands-on portion of a Columbia University Business School Alumni Club of New York panel that focused on LinkedIn, too, where I was talking to new users about why LinkedIn was important. And I do truly believe that.
It’s the first place recruiters go to when researching prospective employees. It’s a great resource to get answers to questions and to connect with people in similar fields whom you might never have met otherwise. And, as I mentioned, it’s a professional venue in which to connect with those people you meet at job fairs or networking events whom you might not want to connect with on Facebook, yet want to have a closer connection to than Twitter might allow.
And yet, it is almost old-school in its Web 2.0 cred.
Once Namesake moves out of Beta and invitation-only status, might it overtake LinkedIn? It feels like the next generation, in many ways.
In the words of the dearly departed Billy Mays, however: “But wait, there’s more!”
Did I mention that I’m not a first adopter? I do, however, have to sign up for just about every service as soon as I hear about it so I have my profile in case I do want to join.
I’ll admit, at first I didn’t really get it. It was like a cross between Twitter and LinkedIn, without the true functionality of either.
I signed up, filled out my profile, connected my Twitter account and promptly forgot about it.
As the days passed, however, more and more of my connections started talking about it. A party was planned for the NYC Top 100 Leaderboard. A party! And I wasn’t invited!
A friend intro’d me directly to the CEO, Mike Yavonditte, and he invited me to stop by their office for coffee next time I was in the city. So I took him up on the offer when I realized I was walking by their office building one day.
Mike gave me a walk-through of the service and I will admit I was intrigued. And I was even more intrigued when he told me the iPhone app was imminent. Mobile is key to any social networking these days.
The key here is that Hashable can help you track how and when you met people. And the more you connect with them through Hashable – whether by introducing them to other people, thanking them for an introduction, posting a meeting for coffee or business or lunch or whatever – the more Hashable connects the two of you. It tracks your relationships according to how many connections you’ve posted with that person.
And you can keep connections with people private so that Hashable knows you’ve had coffee with them approximately 80 times this month without broadcasting it. Hashable keeps track so your relationship status grows while not bothering everyone you know with all the gory details.
It integrates with Twitter, Foursquare, email (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL and others) and with the iPhone app allows you to post the connections easily as they occur, not having to deal with a mobile site or waiting ’til you get back home.
I feel convinced there’s a place for this service, though I admit I’m still mostly lurking. But every couple of days, I look at my Twitter and e-mail connections and find several more trusted folks who’ve joined up.
Which will be the heir apparent to LinkedIn? Will LinkedIn become the Friendster of business networking? At this point, I’d have to say no. But there’s go to be room for more than one major business social network, no?