BranchOut grew from 30,000 to more than 800,000 users in a matter of days last week, especially without any marketing hoopla, constructing virtual farm land or attacking angry avians.These days, a lot of folks are looking for a job, and after the LinkedIn IPO, job seeking tools are back in the spotlight. A Facebook App called
LinkedIn, of course, is the social networking champ in this space (even though its stock price is down from its post-IPO thrall). Is their room for another service?
The idea is a similar one: increase your networking and job-seeking potential by targeting someone at a company that you want to work for, but don't necessarily know first-hand. If you can find someone in your existing network who does, you can relay your interest through your common friend and hope to at least get a toehold and a potential meeting set up.
BranchOut duplicates many of the same features found in LinkedIn: you can create networks, search for job openings or people at specific companies, seek endorsements from people you have worked with and pay for premium services (in their situation, it cost $99 vs. LinkedIn monthly fees starting at $25). You can also automatically import your LinkedIn account information via their app to get started easier. Once you have your account setup, the service recommends people that you might know who aren't yet in your network, similar to what LinkedIn does - although with LinkedIn you can see the context by which you might know someone and how many common connections you both share, both missing from the current BranchOut version.
Like Foursquare, there are badges and other eye candy that you post to your Facebook Wall, all to attract more people to the system and promote your own activities.
However, most of us have created our LinkedIn networks using professional contacts for the most part, and these networks may be more useful in terms of connecting job seekers with the right people. For example, I have more than 2,200 connections on LinkedIn, and when I loaded BranchOut, only had 160 connections there. The BranchOut app was a bit sluggish and somewhat buggy, and I had to reload it a few times to complete the initial setup.
It is worth checking out, if nothing more than to have something professional to do on Facebook or if you have yet to establish your beachhead on LinkedIn. But if you are an experienced LinkedIn user with a well-developed profile and make use of Groups and Answers on that service, you are probably better off staying put rather than learning something new.