Business planning, Local, Sales and marketing

Business networking start-up aims to break LinkedIn stranglehold

Michelle Hammond /

A new business-oriented social network has launched in an attempt to break the increasing stranglehold of LinkedIn, which has hit two million users in Australia alone.

 

The new entrant, titled WhenTheMeetingsOver.com, was born from the founding member’s frustration at being unable to connect with like-minded people while away on business, not only on a professional level but on a social level as well.

 

Based in the United Kingdom, WTMO chief executive Stuart Dawson says the site provides an environment to “epitomise our time online”.

 

“It’s not designed for the Facebook generation of soul-baring wall writers, but for professionals that require a purpose-built social network to enhance their work/life balance,” he says.

 

However, Foad Fadaghi, research director of market analyst firm Telsyte, predicts it will become increasingly difficult for new entrants to compete with the likes of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

 

“Maybe the horse has bolted in the sense that the big guys have shown their market dominance,” he says.

 

Fadaghi estimates around 40% of professionals in Australia use LinkedIn.

 

“There are many non professionals on the site as well… LinkedIn has the critical mass that other sites don’t have,” Fadaghi says.

 

His comments come in light of new figures that show that LinkedIn has exceeded two million Australian members, adding to the 100 million members it has worldwide.

 

Launched in 2003 and based in Mountain View in California, LinkedIn has a diversified business model with revenues coming from user subscriptions, advertising sales and hiring solutions.

 

Cliff Rosenberg, LinkedIn managing director in Australia and New Zealand, says the site’s sole focus is on a professional audience, so acquiring more than two million Australian members is a “significant milestone”.

 

“Since we established local operations, we have seen strong demand and response for our recruitment and marketing solutions service,” he says.

 

“Our growth has been driven by Australian professionals using LinkedIn to network, build their online brand, gain insights from the community and find new career or business opportunities.”

 

Statistics for the site reveal 10.7% of Australian members are small business owners, while think tanks are identified as one of the fastest growing industry sectors.

 

According to Fadaghi, LinkedIn has a done a good job of rolling out new services on a regular basis, including a partnership with fellow social networking giant Twitter.

 

Rosenberg says LinkedIn has also enjoyed success from its relationships with Optus and Vodafone, which sees members enjoy free access to the site on their mobiles.

 

Fadaghi says LinkedIn has a measured approach in that it isn’t “spammy” or seen to be wasting people’s time.

 

“Employers are often afraid that staff are using social networks for activities that are not work related, but LinkedIn has created a professional sandbox,” he says.

 

He says LinkedIn is a valuable tool for consultants and salespeople to build their contacts, and for employers to source potential talent pools.

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