When Social Networking Isn’t Enough

Social networking is pretty marvelous, but it isn't the end-all-be-all for making business connections. There are actually times you'd do better to look elsewhere.

Social networking is pretty marvelous, but it isn’t the end-all-be-all for making business connections. There are actually times when you’d do better to look elsewhere.

This might sound like blasphemy in this social-media-driven age, but beyond Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are online platforms that aren’t listed under “social networks” but offer equal or greater benefits depending on your needs.

Here are three reasons why:

More targeted approach: If you want to hire a web developer or graphic designer, why would Twitter be the first place you’d look? As great as it is, Twitter doesn’t have a well-organized list of web developers you can easily peruse to choose your fit. And the effort it would take to compile such a list isn’t small.

Additionally, why would you put in that time when there’s already a resource in place? By logging onto sites like cOutsource, Upwork or Freelancer and posting what you need, you can bring a list of dedicated professionals to you. Then all you have to do is look through any proposals and decide who you want to work with. It’s a “work smarter” thing.

More real estate: While most of these platforms have limitations on the number of characters freelancers can use to advertise themselves on their profile, it’s still more than you’ll get in a Twitter bio. And although in a perfect world, anyone putting themselves out there in the hopes of networking and attracting clients should have their own website, we don’t live in a perfect world.

If the only way to get more information is to reach out and ask for it, that’s not a good sign. And you don’t have that kind of time anyway.

Freelancing sites, on the other hand, are smartly organized into sections that business owners can easily look through for the information that matters. This is an advantage over even the most business-oriented social network, LinkedIn–where the issue is too much real estate. Even within LinkedIn’s structured format, there’s plenty of room to share more than is necessary. When you need a project completed, you want to find the right people quickly.

Less intrusion: Executives and managers are only human–meaning they’re as susceptible to being distracted by cat videos and funny Vines as the rest of the world. No matter how good your intentions when surfing social networks for specific information, it’s easy to get pulled down a time-wasting rabbit hole by something you stumble upon in your News Feed.

Even if you have laser focus, social feeds refresh so quickly that you can easily lose anything you do manage to find. With outsourcing sites, the only distractions are other potential candidates for the work you need done.

And there’s a bonus to the sites mentioned above and the many others like them: the spirit of collaboration. Maybe you have an in-house IT department but want to bring in some fresh blood via cOutsource to shake up your perspective. Maybe you aren’t looking for one person but three people who can work together to make your project really amazing.

Crowdsourcing is a legitimate way to get things done, so seeking out platforms that specialize in this can take you that much further. GitHub, for instance, offers a platform where software developers can collaborate on projects while learning from each other. Other similar platforms include Codebunk, Cloud9 and Kobra.

Or if you need something more creative, you could look to sites like Fiverr or actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s HitRecord, where creators collaborate to produce stories, music, books and even short films.

Don’t limit yourself: Whatever you need, there’s a place online to find it–and sometimes that place is social media. But more often than not, connections made there are built over time, with thought and effort put into attracting specific influencers you hope to reach. And there’s never a guarantee the person you’re interested in working with is open to the idea.

When you need specific help, it’s best to seek out a specific source built for that purpose. And leave social media to the cat lovers.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.