Branchout vs. LinkedIn

I feel that most people know what LinkedIn is, but for those of you who do not know, this is what it is. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network and allows you to connect with contacts to exchange knowledge, ideas and opportunities regarding your profession.

Most people probably do not know about BranchOut. It is a Facebook application that helps you expand your professional network into your Facebook friends.

Today, what I want to do is compare the two options giving you the pro’s and con’s of both.

One great thing out LinkedIn is that it’s already established. This isn’t a new idea; people have been using it for years and having success. Your contacts can refer you to their contacts for jobs or knowledge-seeking opportunities. I’ve read numerous stories on how people found jobs through their contacts on LinkedIn.

Maisha Walker on said, “One of the simplest ways of using LinkedIn is just as a ’modern Rolodex’ a list of the people you want to communicate with on a regular basis so that they remember you're out there, what you have to offer, and why they like you. The only tools you need for this is your LinkedIn profile, sending LinkedIn invitations to people you know and an hour per day to make phone calls.”

As Walker said, using LinkedIn is fairly simple. One of the other things I love about LinkedIn is that you can upload your resume, and it will put your information in your profile by itself. Of course, you should proofread it all to make sure it is in the appropriate place, but my resume loaded without an issue.

I really like that LinkedIn’s reputation is unblemished, and everyone on it are there for the same reason: to build their professional careers. Yes, some people may be job searching, while others are building their personal brand or advertising their company, but it is all career-oriented.

As stated earlier, BranchOut is a Facebook application, so finding friends is very easy. As long as you already have an account, which most people’s grandmothers even have accounts, then it shouldn’t be a problem.  This is the main gimmick for BranchOut-simplicity. Their argument is, “Why have another profile when you can just add to the one you already have?” I understand this logic, but I have a few concerns.

First, the majority of Facebook users created their account for the social aspect, keeping up with family and friends. If users begin adding BranchOut to their profiles, then Facebook may not be purely social anymore. My other concern stems from one of my previous posts. Most college students and even some adults do not have the most professional Facebook profiles. I would think twice before mixing my social life with my professional life. If your photos, quotes, wall posts etc. are completely clean, then this isn’t a worry for you. However, many people should take this under serious consideration.

However, according to BranchOut's privacy policy, you should be able to avoid the "mixing" problem: BranchOut only shows your name, profile picture, work history, and education and other professional information you choose to share on BranchOut. Our use of limited information keeps your private life on Facebook and your professional profile on BranchOut. This means that your status updates, photo albums, and other personal information are not visible on BranchOut to your contacts, including employers, recruiters and your professional contacts. For this reason, BranchOut is also the perfect place to connect with professional contacts when you do not want to friend them on Facebook.
In summary, my recommendation is to join LinkedIn. With it being branded as a professional networking site, you never have to worry about mixing your social and professional life or annoying people with requests to join. Although, it will require a little more work (adding contacts and updating your resume), I find no problem in a little work. This is already making networking easier than it should be, so who cares if I have to search for contacts and proofread my profile?!

If you would like to learn how to network effectively, check out the resources available through the Career Center.

Paige Robinson '12
Career Center Intern

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