How People Gather in the Work-From-Home Era

Posted 1/25/2022 in Trends by Em Wooden

The way people gather is changing. Despite its pitfalls, Linkedin has been the go-to professional network for the past 10 years. Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the majority of professionals did at least some, if not most, of their networking in person. But with the introduction of social distancing, virtual networking became a necessity rather than a luxury.

Two years later, companies and individuals expect more from their networking platforms than LinkedIn is able to provide. More and more specialized communities are being built, and existing ones, utilized. These communities give people places to gather, build human connections, pursue education, and explore professional opportunities.

Moving away from LinkedIn

In January 2020, The Wall Street Journal published an article titled, Is LinkedIn a Waste of Time? The article explored the platform’s downfall as a social media platform. Its crimes? Subjecting users to a whole lot of spam without having the benefit of being fun to scroll through like other social media sites, such as Facebook or Instagram. In fact, users of LinkedIn were found to spend approximately 17 minutes on the site each month, while Facebook users averaged 35 minutes each day.

Of course, LinkedIn was designed to function as a professional networking platform, not a direct competitor to Facebook. That said, LinkedIn is most useful when everyone is updating their profiles regularly, and that just isn’t happening. Having an impressive collection of connections doesn’t mean much if those connections aren’t actually keeping their work histories up to date and logging in often enough to see your messages.

The rise of Slack

Slack has been on the scene since 2009, but there’s no denying that it has become a household name since we entered the work-from-home era. The platform is designed to bring professionals together—whether your coworkers are down the street or across the globe. Slack makes it easier to share knowledge, ask questions, and be connected in real-time. With video chat and “huddle” (audio chat) functionalities, your home office can instantly become a conference room.

But Slack isn’t just a great way to connect with your coworkers, it’s doing what LinkedIn originally set out to do: creating niche communities where you can make connections with professionals outside of your organization and stay up to date with what’s going on in your field. There are all kinds of Slack communities to choose from, but Medium has suggested a few free communities for tech professionals that are worth checking out. These include Online Geniuses (the largest Slack community for marketers), DesignX (a 5,000-strong group of designers and leaders), and Mind the Product (a community of 20K+ people who build products people love).

(Mis)using Discord

You may be thinking, Discord? Isn’t that a platform for gamers? According to the company itself, yes…but it’s also more than that. Protocol investigated the advent of Discord being used in the workplace and found that while this isn’t what the platform is intended for, they do encourage people to use it for study groups and hobby communities outside of the gaming realm.

Discord is similar to Slack in many ways and lauded for its super-responsive audio experience, but it was definitively designed with gamers in mind, which can lead to a clunkier work experience. It’s also inconvenient to switch between various accounts, meaning a professional who also uses Discord for gaming will likely become frustrated switching from their gaming profile to their work one. That said, there are plenty of Discord servers designed for professional networking, and since many of them are smaller than the popular Slack communities, you may have a better shot at getting to know the group as a whole. Check out servers like Entrepreneurs, Startups, and The Building Culture

Find your community

There’s no way around it—people gather differently than they used to. Here at Candidate, we highly recommend finding your niche community on Slack or Discord so that you can stay on top of trends and get real-time advice from experienced professionals in your industry. These communities are an extension of your own knowledge, and offer an excellent forum for networking.

Are you looking to activate your network? Signup to be a referrer on the Candidate platform! Employers post open roles visible only to approved referrers; referrers then submit applicants in their network for consideration along with a personal referral; if a referrer’s candidate is hired, they get rewarded.