Rather than making things better, it’s fairly common for venbdors to use a FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) strategy rather than actually developing something. By screwing around with semantics and turning intelligent conversation into a debate about the meanings of words, they derail innovation and disruption. To find the the sources of confusion in the business, all you have to do is follow the money.
So, on the subject of Talent Communities, it’s better to point to public examples. Here are the stories you ought to be watching”
- 85 Broads
This global Women’s network has more than 25,000 relatively high powered members. Founded in 1997, the operation predates much of the social media fanfare. That makes it an extraordinary example of what a formally developed network can be designed to do. 85Broads should be considered a model for the many small scale networks that are likely to take root over the coming years.
Positioned as a career gateway for ambitious young workers, BrazenCareerist offers a combination of advice, resume hosting, networking support, and job ads. It’s more personal than a job board and less social network-y than Facebook. It’s probably a great place to encounter young people who read Fast Company. It’s a fantastic example of how job boards could start to evolve.
Doostang is “an exclusive career community that helps elite young professionals accelerate their careers.” Founded as a career accelerator for graduates from top colleges, the site is evolving into a network for finance jobs. The site claims to have 750,000 members and 1 in 4 of the graduates from the top 30 colleges. Members pay about $300/year for a subscription to the flow of jobs. Doostang uses referrals from networks that are larger than a typical Facebook model.
The oldest of the professional networks predates the commercialization of the Internet. Launched in 1991, the company teaches networking and job hunting skills to its network. The niche is executives making over $150K (US)
This offering from DataFrenzy (a Recruitment Technology provider) is best understood as a demo project. The parent company makes a variety of tools that are white labeled by other vendors in the space. Technically, it’s an interesting blend of functionality from old school career sites and contemporary social media. It has some potential as a hosted career network for individual large companies. Gadball does not build on the Facebook ecosystem
Another software engineering oriented community, Github allows developers the opportunity to show their stuff in front of peers
With nearly 500 organizations onboard as customers, KODA was a meaningful pioneer in using social networking as a way to build a career. The site simultaneously provided interesting alternatives for personal portfolio construction (with video and multimedia) while offering users the technical potential to network. Even with employers and jobs, the operation folded in on itself as the result of poor candidate acquisition. KODA closed in May 2011 after two and a half years of operation. The story represents a cautionary tale for employers who are considering investing in new services.
Another property that predates the dot com explosion, MediaBistro is a perfect example of how to build a social network that serves a professional niche. Rooted in physical events, classrooms, local networking and professional development, MB focuses exclusively on people in the publishing industry. The operation has patiently grown from a team of three in 1999 to a significant enterprise with lots influence in 2011. Rather than a series of nonphysical connections driven by short messaging, MB meets the needs of the whole person in the network.
This Manhattan based talent community is one of the few players in social media to clearly demonstrate an understanding of the local nature of Recruiting and community. Think of OneWire as a LinkedIn for the New York financial community.
As of late 2011, this small career network based on the Facebook platform has received about 10,000 likes on Facebook. While there is a technology framework, the initial question for a network is whether it can acquire users rapidly and distinguish itself from the host environment. That task either requires deep pockets or incredibly viral adoption. Neither is obvious in the current offering and coverage.
Slashdot is a technology-related news website. Billed as “News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters,” it features user-submitted and evaluated news stories about science- and technology-related topics. The Slashdot has been around long enough to show the real signs of online community: internal slang, competition amongst residents, group shunning, and assistance in times of need.
This another way of saying that talent communities are alive and well. If you want a clearer picture of what one is, take a look at these examples. If you know of communities I’ve missed, let me know.
John Sumser is the founder, principal author and editor-in-chief of the HRExaminer Online Magazine. John explores the people, technology, ideas and careers of senior leaders in Human Resources and Human Capital. John is the also principal of Two Color Hat where he routinely advises Human Resources, Recruiting Departments and Talent Management teams with product analysis, market segmentation, positioning, strategy and branding guidance.