There’s no doubt that when it comes to sourcing online, LinkedIn is a paradise for recruiters. Boasting over 225 million members, LinkedIn has cornered the market as the social network of choice for professionals around the world. However in the last few years, there has been an increase in the number of niche professional networking sites catering to different industries and specialities. So if you’re a recruiter or sourcer looking for very specific candidates who may not necessarily use LinkedIn, it’s worth exploring these niche networks.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most active niche professional networking sites online:
1) Stage32 – Social Network for Film, Theatre and Television Creatives
Has over 300,000 professionals from the entertainment industry across 180 countries. The site advertises that their members are made up of those with Academy, Emmy and Tony award winners as well as budding screenwriters, cast and crew members. Members showcase their resumes, headshots, portfolios and work experience on their profiles as well as promoting any projects or reels they’re working on.
Apart from networking opportunities, Stage32 offers professionals a dedicated space to discuss various aspects of their craft as well as an area for learning, collaboration and employment opportunities. All members also earn Karma points based on their activity on the network.
Basic Boolean String: site:stage32.com/profile “job title” AND “lives * city name” -inurl:stage32.com/lounge
2) Doximity – Network for US Healthcare Professionals
Founded in 2011, Doximity is a US based network for medical professionals. It’s a platform where healthcare professionals can connect with each other and collaborate on patient care. The platform’s unique feature is the secure messaging service that allows physicians to refer patients to a colleague and send sensitive patient information over a secure network or through digital faxes. Given that the platform is only available to healthcare professionals and medical students, Doximity is ‘safe haven’ for doctors who’d rather not engage with patients or pharmaceutical reps on LinkedIn.
For recruiters, Doximity offers a service called Talent Finder which is priced at around $12,000 per year per license or “seat” to advertise jobs. Apart from receiving job opportunities, members are also able to take on consulting work and receive payment through the platform at average rates of $375 an hour.
Basic Boolean String: site:doximity.com/pub/ “speciality/job title” AND “hospital/university” intitle:city
3) Muck Rack – Social Media Site for Journalists
Muck Rack is a dedicated and vetted network of journalists which includes professionals from media outlets such as The New York Times, USA Today, Financial Times, etc. as well as freelancers from around the world.
All members are vetted by Muck Rack editors and are encouraged to network and showcase their published works within their portfolios. The site is free to use for journalists, with the biggest draw being its exclusivity and the management of PR spam within the platform.
Business executives, researchers, academics, public relations professionals, media consultants and salespeople, etc. are prohibited from creating profiles. Instead, access to the database and the ability to pitch journalists through the site are reserved for those willing to pay a subscription fee that starts at $199 per month.
Basic Boolean String: site:muckrack.com/ “beat/location” AND keyword -inurl:topic -inurl:link -inurl:directory
4) ResearchGate – Collaboration platform for Scientists and Academics
Founded in 2008, Barlin-based ResearchGate is a site where scientists can interact, exchange knowledge and distribute their research. The network incorporates functionalities seen on other social networks like LinkedIn and Twittter as well as allowing members to share papers and data sets, give feedback on the reproducibility of research and finding solutions to research problems.
The network is a boon to the scientific community as it facilitates collaboration, transparency and reduces research redundancy. However as it stands, there isn’t a clear monetisation model for the network. Plans have been mentioned to charge universities and institutions for advertising jobs on the site as well as providing a marketplace for laboratory equipment.
Basic Boolean String: site:researchgate.net/profile/*/info “job title” AND “field of interest/skill/discipline” AND location -inurl:.pdf
5) RallyPoint – Professional Military Network
What started off as a class project is now a powerful platform that not only connects retired and active military servicemen and women but also helps them explore career opportunities within the military or out in the private sector.
A quick X-ray search shows approximately 200,000 profiles on the site. This is a relatively small number of users. However when you consider the size of the US military and veteran community, RallyPoint’s members make up a significant portion of the population.
To gain access to this community as a recruiter, your company can either advertise jobs on the network or purchase a license to access and search their database of members.
**Unfortunately, there is little information available in the publicly indexed profiles for RallyPoint, making a boolean search string redundant.
6) Kaggle – Community for Data Scientists
Kaggle is a social network with a twist. Unlike sites like Quora or StackOverflow where members gain reputation or ‘karma points’ from their peers for answering questions, Kaggle is all about the competition. It’s a platform where organisations can pose complex data science problems and invite the community to solve them in return for prize.
The site aims to match data scientists and statisticians looking to hone their skills with organisations that have real world data (and problems!) but don’t have access to advanced machine learning techniques.
Apart from the competitive framework, Kaggle provides the data science community with a place to meet, network and collaborate with each other. Users are ranked according to three tiers; a Novice is new user, a Kaggler actively participates in competitions whilst a Master is a user with consistent and stellar competition results. The Tier System takes into account all-time performance on the network while a Rank System is used to compare active users based on points. However, it’s worth noting that unlike other sites, a user’s points on Kaggle deteriorate over time. Points are calculated with time decay fixed at the time of the most recent competition deadline. This basically means that users have to join competitions regularly if they wish to keep their points up.
Basic Boolean String: site:kaggle.com/users skills AND location AND “tier”
GrabCAD is essentially GitHub for mechanical engineers. It started off as a site where engineers and designers can share and upload 3D CAD models in an ‘open source’ way. Today, the platform has evolved beyond an open-network library to include cloud-based collaboration and data management tools as well as a Challenges section where companies crowdsource new designs and concepts from the community.
Following Github’s model, GrabCAD also offers a premium option called Workbench which teams can use to share information without uploading their designs into the public domain.
Basic Boolean String: site:grabcad.com “job title/skills/keywords” intitle:”country” -inurl:(questions|tutorials|library|blog|requests|contentfiles)
The trend for niche social media sites will continue as professionals decamp to specialised platforms that offer a slightly different experience than on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Google+. That’s not to say that any of the large social networks will become obsolete anytime soon. They still provide a common ground where users connect with acquaintances, friends and family online. However smaller, more focused professional networks give people the opportunity to connect with like-minded people who share their particular interests or work in the same industry. Niche networks are simply a new chapter in the social media story.
Know any other niche professional networking sites? Tell us about them in the comments.