I’m not suggesting that Branchout replace your Linkedin network. It’s still in it’s infancy (it was just launched this week) and it grows more powerful as it gets added to more users Facebook networks. But even in it’s infancy, you can gain a surprising amount of job search information from your Facebook friends that can be very useful in your search.
How Branchout Can Help Your Job Search:
I had the opportunity to interview founder Rick Marini, founder of Branchout. Rick is also the CEO of SuperFan, and former CEO of Tickle.com an early social media quiz website (before selling it to Monster.com). Having worked for Monster for 4 years after selling Tickle, Rick’s been at the intersection of job search and social media for a while.
Branchout allows Facebook users to identify friends that work at a specific company and ask them for job or networking help. While this is similar to one of Linkedin’s main uses, there are some important differences.
Rick was kind enough to explain some of the advantages of Branchout. “Some people prefer communicating through Facebook, and use it as their major networking tool. For example, Branchout is useful for people just graduating from of college with large Facebook networks - but who would have to starting building a network from scratch on Linkedin.” Rick makes an interesting point here, as Facebook is 7 times larger than Linkedin - making it easy to see that there are many people who don’t use Linkedin, but who might still need help finding their next job.
While Branchout isn’t a fully featured Linkedin (let’s call it Linkedin-lite), the app hits the central values of Linkedin - the ability to search for companies, discover which of your contacts work there, and then communicate with them.
Rick added “While Linkedin is strictly a professional network, for many users personal and professional networks have merged on Facebook.” For instance, Rick personally uses Facebook as his contact list.
“If you’re really looking for a job, you’ll probably want to use more options than just your professional network, including your personal and family connections - more likely found on Facebook.” Rick mentioned some additional advantages as “ ... some users have a bigger network on Facebook than on Linkedin and can use Branchout immediately to discover Facebook friends who work at a specific company - rather than investing significant time building a Linkedin network. In addition, with Facebook there are better communication tools than on Linkedin.”
While Branchout is still in its early stages there are some significant differences between Branchout and Linkedin that may make using Linkedin advantageous for some users, or make using both an advantage:
- Some users keep business contacts on Linkedin and personal contacts on Facebook. Using both services allows a job seeker to leverage both business and personal networks.
- Linkedin allows 3 degrees of separation, while Branchout only offers 2. While this limits network size using Branchout, your odds of communication with someone 3 degrees away are less than if directly introduced by your contact.
- You can see what companies are represented by the friends of your friends (2nd degree) on Branchout if your friends also install the Branchout application. On Linkedin, you automatically can see 3 degrees of separation without installing additional apps.
- Linkedin includes Q&A capabilities, large active industry groups, recommendations, an active job board, and the ability to overlay inside company contacts over job advertisements.
- While Linkedin allows for larger networks (Facebook limits friends to 5K per user), this isn’t an issue for the majority of users, who limit networks to those they know personally, or might expand to others in their industry.
- Linkedin still offers superior search tools, allowing users (and employers) to search by title, geography, company, industry, and name. It will be interesting to see if Branchout expands its ability to search beyond company name.
( Continued ... How To Use Branchout In Your Search: )
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