Looking for a job? Consider creating your own. There are a number of social resources to help you connect with other entrepreneurs and get your business ideas off the ground.
Here are the top 10 social networks for entrepreneurs. Each helps entrepreneurs succeed by providing them with the guidance, tools and resources they need to setup their company and gain exposure.
Have another social site to add to this list? Tell us about it in the comments.
1. Entrepreneur Connect
Entrepreneur Media, the company that produces Entrepreneur Magazine, started a social network over a year ago specifically for entrepreneurs and small business owners called Entrepreneur Connect. Like all social networks, you have the opportunity to create your own profile, explore the community, share ideas with other entrepreneurs and network. Unlike most social networks, this one frowns upon too much self-promotion and applauds idea sharing.
You can use this network to connect to service providers, suppliers, advisers and colleagues. Just like LinkedIn and Facebook, there are professional groups that you can join or create. Another cool feature is that you’re able to start your own blog and possibly have it appear on the main page. This is similar to what Fast Company has done with their website.
PartnerUp is a social network for entrepreneurs who are searching for people and resources for business opportunities. Anyone can join, but business partners, co-founders, executives and board members will get the most out of this one. In this network, you can ask or offer advice, find commercial real estate and find service providers like accountants and marketers for your business.
The big differentiator with this social network is the commercial real estate “MoveUpSM” program that serves entrepreneurs who have experienced a hard time trying to find office space for their business. They also have a Resource Directory that allows small and mid-sized businesses to advertise their services.
Most social networks neglect the content aspect that makes StartupNation so useful. With articles, forums, blogs, on-demand seminars, and podcasts, entrepreneurs will be better prepared for their ventures and have the resources required to make better business decisions.
There are a wide range of topics being discussed on StartupNation right now, including business planning, marketing and web-based business. The site also offers a series of competitions, such as a dorm-based 20 contest and an elevator pitch competition. If you’re an entrepreneur or hope to become one, this site is definitely one you can’t miss out on.
It’s difficult to leave LinkedIn off of any social networking list because it’s so useful for anyone who’s either searching for a job, is trying to network with like-minded individuals, or building a company. LinkedIn offers many resources for entrepreneurs, such as groups, including the very popular “On Startups” group that has over 54,000 members.
Entrepreneurs on LinkedIn should brand themselves properly so they can attract the right kind of business opportunities, and perform searches to find service providers or partners. As an entrepreneur, you should also be looking to participate in LinkedIn Answers, events and applications to spruce up your profile and become a valuable member to your community.
This isn’t another LinkedIn clone. Instead, Biznik brands itself as a social network that “doesn’t suck.” The Biznik community is composed of freelancers, CEOs, and the self-employed. Like the other networks, this is a place for you to share ideas, instead of posting your resume. It is mandatory for all members to use their real names and provide real data, and Biznik editors actually review all profiles to ensure compliance with that policy. There are three levels of membership, including basic, active ($10 a month for an enhanced profile) and supporting ($24 a month for increased visibility).
6. Perfect Business
If you want to meet thousands of serious entrepreneurs, experts and investors from a variety of industries, then Perfect Business might be the perfect social network for you. The type of people you’ll find are potential business partners, potential clients and advisers. Additionally, the site has leading business partners like Entrepreneur and Virgin Money.
From business networking to a video center where you can learn from successful entrepreneurs, a business plan builder and even an investor center, you’ll have most of the resources you need to create or regenerate your business. There is a free basic membership and a gold membership that costs $29.99 per month.
7. Go BIG Network
The Go BIG Network embraces job seekers, in addition to funding sources, service providers and entrepreneurs. In this social network, you post requests for help, which are then routed to other people in the network that can answer your questions or support you. Members of this social network can search through profiles of other members, contact them or post a request (a classified ad) to talk about what they are looking for (such as a business partner). The profiles on this network are targeted and specific so it’s easy to find an investor in a particular region.
The Cofoundr network is made up of idea makers, entrepreneurs, programmers, web designers, investors, freelancers and executives. The primary purpose of joining this network is to start a new web venture. Unlike most of the social networks already listed here, Cofoundr is a strictly private network, which means that you can’t view member profiles before you register for an account.
Membership requires having a valid university or work email address, which means high schools students and younger aren’t allowed. The first thing you have to do is sign up, then specify your abilities and the people you are trying to network with and finally, post your idea on the bulletin board or in the forum.
9. The Funded
The Funded is an online community of entrepreneurs who research, rate and review funding sources. Entrepreneurs can view and share terms sheets to assist each other in finding good investors, as well as discuss the inner workings of operating a business. General benefits of this site include viewing facts, reviews and commentary on funding resources, and accessing RSS feeds of the most recent public comments by members.
By joining the site, you have access to detailed fund profiles with specialty, reference investments, and investment criteria, in addition to accessing partner vCards that have full contact information of all partners at venture funds. In order to get any value out of this social network, you pretty much have to become a member.
10. Young Entrepreneur
If you’re young, entrepreneurial and socially active or just curious, then Young Entrepreneur is a great starting point for you. This community appears as a discussion forum, with topics such as e-commerce, search engine optimization, marketing, IT & Internet, and franchising. Aside from their main forum and threads, there is a popular blog and some great videos.