Branch Out is Business Networking on Facebook. This new Facebook application allows you to do career networking on Facebook by searching a company name, see which of your Facebook friends are connected to it and posting job openings.
A nice feature is that you can import your information that you’ve already set up on LinkedIn…and then easily network with your Facebook connections.
“While certainly not harmful, this seems redundant to LinkedIn from my perspective and seems to be a way that Facebook is trying to become relevant in the same way they are relevant for social connections,” said Social Media Strategist Caroline Melberg. “I didn’t see anything with Branch Out that I can’t do with LinkedIn – only better with LinkedIn as more of my professional connections are participating there. For now, I still see LinkedIn as the 800 lb. gorilla of professional networking online, particularly in light of their recent IPO and market valuation, as well as the increase in new members they saw after that took place.”
Empire Avenue is a combination of game and social networking, calling itself the “social stock market.” It allows you to “value your interaction, engagement and audience across social media accounts and gives you a “share price” against which others can “invest” their own online social capital in the form of virtual currency fueling our version of a “reputation economy.”
According to Melberg, there are several reasons why this site is popular. “This one could certainly be a good deal of fun, and you’ll likely stumble across many new connections that it could be argued would be helpful in building your network. It’s a lot of fun when you sign up and people start ‘buying stock’ in your profile! That being said, it’s long on the ‘game’ aspect and so from a business perspective I’d recommend fully optimizing LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and getting everything you can from them before diving in here.”
Have fun as you explore these sites, but be sure to keep your social media strategy in mind as you do so!