Industry-specific social networks?
May 13, 2008 9:17 PM   Subscribe

Good examples of web-based professional social networks?

I'm interested in examples of successful web-based social networks established on the basis of profession or industry, designed to share knowledge and experiences within that industry alone. Furthermore, the narrower the better: I'm much more keen to know about the social networks, for instance, of "Sumatran underwater basketweavers" than those of "small business owners".
If your job has anything like this, I'm very keen to know what makes it work well for you.
posted by Fiasco da Gama to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What exactly do you mean by "web-based social networks"? Are you looking for industry-specific versions of facebook and linkedin? Or will industry-specific messageboards do?
posted by Joh at 9:44 PM on May 13, 2008

Facebook for workers, that's exactly what I'm after.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:47 PM on May 13, 2008

posted by caddis at 10:08 PM on May 13, 2008

I love linkedin. Linkedin works because it's not just my industry, but I use it primarily for industry networking.
posted by Pants! at 10:42 PM on May 13, 2008

Another cheer for Linked In
posted by wmeredith at 5:38 AM on May 14, 2008

I know that both the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) and, I believe, the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) have implemented some basic "social networking" functionality into their member sites, but I don't know if many people really use this function., which is a portal for recruiters, also has some networking functionality but again, I don't know how many people make use of it.

Linkedin is definitely on top and pretty much makes industry-specific sites unnecessary, and it is becoming more facebook-like all the time.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:47 AM on May 14, 2008

My husband actually found his current job through LinkedIn. It's with a small software development company with less than 20 employees. He never would have found this job otherwise. We both recommend checking it out.
posted by LightMayo at 7:08 AM on May 14, 2008

H-Net isn't like Facebook but it is probably much better for Humanities Scholars.
posted by JJ86 at 7:10 AM on May 14, 2008

perhaps plaxo. its more like an integrator of other social networks but defo worth a gander.
posted by lapsang at 9:23 AM on May 14, 2008

Corporate training folks have rapidly populated LearningTown, a Ning network. It combines Facebook-like profiles with forums, video posting, and similar social stuff.

I think one thing that makes it work is that the founder is a strong leader in the field, so his personality sort of permeates the place. He has also declared LearningTown to be "vendor-neutral" and periodically drives traffic to the site by sending emails to his list with questions that he wants people to discuss on LearningTown.

I've heard that another consulting company tried to start a similar community but failed. That company doesn't have as clear a personality and I think they could be perceived as less helpful and more sales-y, so people may have stayed away fearing sales pitches from the hosts and vendors.

I'm not at all fond of Ning's forum software. It's too hard to track discussions, even with RSS feeds. The initial burst of discussion on the site has tapered off some, maybe because of the usability problems. However, the profile pages and ability to post videos do work nicely, and even though I barely participate in the site, I've gotten a new client from it and have learned more about how others in the industry think.

Even with the forum issues, the quality of the discussion on the site is much higher than the discussion on two other bulletin-board type forums in the same industry. The LearningTown discussions are more thoughtful and show more experience in the field, while other bulletin-board type forums tend to have basic questions and no real discussion. I suspect that this has two causes: the bulletin-board forums are run by faceless industry groups rather than a personable human being, and posters on the forums seem like strangers because there are no profile pages or other ways to interact.
posted by PatoPata at 10:33 AM on May 14, 2008

Banktastic for bank & credit union people, fairly new site. The question-asking area is pretty useful, and there are some smart opinionated people involved.

My last job was in higher ed, where I was on a web developers' email list for years, went to the HighEdWebDev conference, higher ed meetups at SXSW, etc. People in higher ed web development like to bitch about the lack of community, but there's at least a spirit of openness in higher education that makes it comfortable to network with like minds.

The last year & 1/2 I've been working at a financial institution; it's been hard to find any sort of structured networking for web people, just a lot of scattered blogs. (Blogging seems to have taken off with credit union people in the last 6 months or so; or maybe I just found the secret network.) So this new site is very useful professionally.
posted by epersonae at 10:38 AM on May 14, 2008

Thank you all for the very helpful responses. I knew you wouldn't let me down.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 3:52 PM on May 14, 2008

There's also SciLink and Nature Network.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 4:22 PM on May 14, 2008

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