BeKnown, a social networking hub for career development launched this week. An application for Facebook, BeKnown is really a social network within a social network. That sounds confusing, but it’s actually quite easy to use.
That is, if you want to bother. There are so many new social networks these days, that I need to be convinced that a new profile and contacts to keep tabs on is really going to be worth my time. Even if your main focus right now is finding a job, you still need to be careful about where you place your time and efforts.
What I Liked
- It’s easy to use. BeKnown installation was a total snap. You just click a button. Literally. Also, because I’m already in Facebook, I don’t have to open another window or tab or remember another username and password combo.
- It’s fun! There is a cute little bee as the logo, and you can earn badges for your efforts in the network and personal career gains.
- It’s available in 19 languages (as compared to 9 in LinkedIn or 1 in BranchOut).
- It’s an easy to way to keep Facebook friends that you know in a professional capacity away from some potentially damaging data. While it’s always recommended to be very careful about what you post on Facebook or online in general, creating lists and adjusting privacy settings in Facebook is a bit of a hassle, and I always have this sneaking suspicion that I didn’t set something write, forgot to add a person to a more limited friends list, or I neglected to adjust the settings on a photo album. BeKnown keeps professional data and contacts where they belong.
What I Didn’t Like
- Mostly, I don’t feel like recreating all of my efforts on LinkedIn. I have more active business connections on LinkedIn than I do on Facebook. I like to keep my Facebook the place where I go for fun and entertainment.
- A sigh of relief came when I saw a box at the top “In a hurry? Import from Monster or LinkedIn”. But when I clicked the “LinkedIn” button, I got an error message saying that LinkedIn blocked the import. Ho hum. It turns out that LinkedIn shut off API (application programming interface) access.
- No personalized requests. On LinkedIn, when you ask to connect to someone new, default message text saying “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” appears, but you can edit it. On BeKnown, you have no choice but to say “Hi – Please join my professional network on BeKnown. Now we can connect professionally on Facebook without mixing business and friends. Thanks.” I don’t want to say that! I feel like that’s saying to a Facebook friend, “I don’t actually want to be friends with you.”
- You risk annoying people. I already asked several former colleagues and people I’ve done business with to give me a recommendation on LinkedIn. I really don’t want to bug them again for BeKnown. I’m not sure I want to invite many contacts to join the social network either. I recently invited a lot of people to LinkedIn, and very few took me up on it.
- It’s associated with Monster. I never had anything remotely resembling luck with Monster when performing a job search. I always got totally unrelated jobs sent to me and a lot of spam n’ scam.
- “Skills” interface. One of the things you’re directed to do in order to get a complete profile is to fill out your skill set. You can only automatically import from Monster, which I haven’t visited in years, for reasons stated above. So I tried to manually fill out my skills. You’re supposed to list how long you’ve had a given skill and where you used it. Except your choices are displayed in a drop-down menu. Bad. The first thing that I submitted was “Writing”. Well, I happen to have used my writing skills in more than one job, but I couldn’t indicate that, so I left that part blank.
- One of the things that I like about having professional contacts be my friends on Facebook is that I have things in common with them as a result of our shared professional interests. I might post an article on Facebook that they will find interesting and vice versa. I don’t see a way of sharing new articles or links as I would in the normal Facebook interface (or LinkedIn).
From a job recruiter’s perspective, there are many more benefits to BeKnown. What immediately stands out is the ability to mine Facebook’s approximately 700 million users, thereby extending recruitment reach into more passive job seekers.
According to an article in Personnel Today, BeKnown is expected to release an additional feature next month that will provide financial compensation for professional referrals, though it didn’t say if payment was contingent on the referral turning into a job placement. It’d better be, otherwise this feature will quickly be abused.
BeKnown is coming on the heels of BranchOut, a Facebook application released in July 2010 that allows you to connect with others and network for jobs on Facebook without having professional contacts see your personal data. It has already grown to 800,000 users.
BeKnown is a user-friendly interface for job seekers and recruiters to make professional connections through Facebook. The global reach of Facebook provides it with a tremendous user base that facilitates making these connections and sidesteps the hassle of creating another profile on a separate social network. On the other hand, several features do need to be rebuilt, and some users may shy away from mixing the business of professional networking with the pleasure of goofing around on Facebook.
The ideal market for BeKnown is probably recent college grads. They are entering a hostile employment market, likely haven’t devoted too much time into professional social networking, and they might just have a photo or two in their Facebook profile that a potential employer or boss really shouldn’t see.
If I hadn’t already established a solid base of professional contacts in the regular Facebook interface and especially on LinkedIn, I think that BeKnown would hold greater appeal, and millions of people fit this bill. Despite the initial skepticism that I and others share, it seems that there is potential for mining the captive market in Facebook’s global empire. After all, people spend a lot of time on Facebook. According to comScore, Facebook accounted for 10 percent of U.S. page views last year, while three out of every ten Internet sessions included a visit to the site. Rather than steal people away, savvy startups like BeKnown are trying to get their piece of the pie from within.