Remember when Facebook was just open to college students?
Social media sites have been a part of daily life for many years now, and they are becoming critical for businesses as well. In fact, HubSpot's State of Inbound Marketing, 2012, reports that:
Social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing
As a business owner, you may be searching for social networking sites tailored to entrepreneurs and issues related to growing their businesses, such as: Product Development, legal advice, and B2B Marketing.
There are many out there, and the landscape is extremely fluid - while performing research for this blog, I discovered many sites were acquired, defunct, or shut down.
Here are 10 social networking sites specifically designed for entrepreneurs.
StartupNation has been around since 2002 and claims to be:
one of the leading small business destinations on the Internet delivering over 250,000 pages of valued content and attracting over 3.1 million unique visitors in 2013
This large site has many sections and offers a wide array of resources for SMB owners. Their reservoir of articles runs deep, and they address topics ranging from how to launch your business to legal / insurance / compliance issues. There is a forum section where you can ask or respond to questions posted there, and if you are a site member, you can join groups and interact with other business owners.
2. Networking for Professionals
Networking for Professionals was also founded in 2002 by professionals who wanted to fuse in-person and online networking with face-to-face meetings.
There are two membership options- Regular and POD.
- Regular Membership allows you to create an online profile of your business on the site and contact other members who have company profiles there.
- POD Membership entitles you to everything offered by a Regular membership, and also permits you to join a Pod - a "focused group of successful and supportive professionals who meet once every two weeks.". Pods can be general or field-specific.
Networking for Professionals also hosts in-person business networking events throughout many cities in the U.S.
3. Founders Network
Founders Network is a networking site for tech company founders and entrepreneurs. The site boasts a growing community of over 500 members. The social networking site prides itself on fostering professional and personal relationships among its members. As a member, you will be able to learn from your peers, and can pass on your knowledge to others. In fact, the site itself claims it's a place to get support, not sell products.
Founders Network also hosts in-person events throughout California and New York City.
Vator (short for innovator) was launched in 2007 and has a vibrant community, blog, and news feed. The large site posts business news in the VatorNews section, and also has an area devoted to interviews with entrepreneurs and investors. Registering allows you to create your own company profile and interact with other members.
Vator has a cool section that is completely dedicated to videos of members' companies and products.
5. Founders Grid
Founders Grid is a networking site that provides a weekly newsletter tailored to startup founders / owners. The newsletter includes resources, guides, and interviews with founders detailing their successful business strategies. As one subscriber wrote on their website:
It’s the most relevant, interesting and diverse curation of startup focused articles that I receive
The site claims a membership of 9,000+ startup owners, and also provides reviews of software and SaaS platforms, as well as other business guides.
PartnerUp is a Google+ hosted community that is focused on SMB owners' needs. Claiming over 10,000 members, the site is organized into a user-friendly interface where you can navigate through different topics via a left-side menu. Members can post questions and comments, and there is a section of the site dedicated to business opportunities and other related inquires. Joining is simple, and you can invite others to the group as well.
Meetup is a networking site devoted to fostering local, offline groups dedicated to bettering group members' lives and the community at large. Members can organize or join one of the 9,000+ groups already listed on the site. Meetup boasts an astounding 23+ million members in 180 countries. You can search for specific groups in over 30 categories, including Career & Business, in any city. In fact, listed right on the homepage is a New York Entrepreneurs & Startup Network group.
No list of social media sites for entrepreneurs would be complete without mentioning LinkedIn:
the world's largest professional network with 300 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the globe
LinkedIn has been around since 2003 and allows business professionals to create personal and company pages. A true networking site, members can interact with other members on a personal level by writing recommendations, endorsements, and even sending InMails (LinkedIn's branded version of email). LinkedIn allows you to present a professional online image of yourself and your company, nicely supplementing any website(s) you already have.
Peer is an innovative social media app that takes advantage of video communications. The mobile app (currently only offered on the App Store, but coming soon to Google Play and Desktop) allows you to search member profiles on LinkedIn, view the profile on the app itself, and even video call the person through the simple click of a button within the app. Peer opens a new dimension in online social networking, allowing users to immediately speak with newly-discovered contacts over live video.
Upspring was created to help companies engage with their online audience, and assist owners in growing their businesses. An Upspring membership allows you to create a business profile and connect with other professionals or businesses on the site. The Upspring suite also connects to other social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) for true consolidation of a business' social media marketing efforts.
Author's note: This list is not a Top 10 list of 1 being the best and 10 being the worst. It is simply a list of impactful entrepreneur social network sites created for owners' needs. Please see the individual companies' websites for information on membership dues, if any.