BranchOut vs. LinkedIn vs. BeKnown

After three days of experimenting with BranchOut, I am still going back and forth with arguments about the advantages and disadvantages that LinkedIn and BranchOut have.
When I finished creating my profile on BranchOut, which was very user friendly, and started looking through the rest of the options I thought: this better be a LinkedIn spin-off otherwise LinkedIn is kind of screwed.

Well … is not.

 

With LinkedIn is very clear what you get: a professional image of yourself on the best possible online location to date.
You have the basic free access: profile, reference request system, recommendations, message system, jobs, company profiles, participating in groups of interest, and getting answers. And you have to pay for direct messages to people that are not in your network and a series of other premium option, like who view your profile, and so on.
For me, the individual client, all those premium options are not very interesting. I get for free what I need: I am indexed online with a professional profile, recruiters can contact me and I can connect with people that can help me in my career or in finding answers to work related questions.
There are also users that are companies, recruiters. They buy the premium packages. LinkedIn does acceptable when it comes to using external social media, but so is my blog.
It is a long way from being an element of social media that uses the rest of social media to being a company that really incorporates and assimilates social media.

BranchOut is a start-up that does it and will get better at doing exactly this: becoming a social media hub.
They are the online wave rider, taking the best of all worlds.
For the moment you can start by importing your LinkedIn profile and have all the options that Facebook provides plus the specifics of BranchOut: endorsements, ranking based on how connected you are, badges of honor, and a huge database of jobs.
These first days it felt like playing a game, a reputation game. It is a serious game because it satisfies your NEED OF SOCIAL RECOGNITION. The same thing that Klout and others do: build, create and maintain your ONLINE SOCIAL STATUS.
Are all this badges and rankings worth anything for a recruiter? You bet they are!!!

I think BranchOut is here to stay. There is place for them and for LinkedIn in the market. The strategy for their future development is something that is probably making a lot of consultants sweat right now. The people that give advice are those that will shape the future of these two companies. Companies have the “kill gene” that Guy Kawasaki talks about. If their focus will be on how to eliminate the other, both companies will lose.

Later edit:
BeKnown was launched this morning. The application launched by Monster.com is not so different from BranchOut: options for importing data from LinkedIn and Monster.com, badges, endorsements. Only that BranchOut is way more good looking. Purple header and bee badges are not very appealling. They do share the same tedious inviting people one by one method.

My recommendations:

LinkedIn
For the individual client there is nothing more they can offer. It should focus more on corporate clients and build ecosystems. Implementing collaborative tools, from project management to knowledge management, will position LinkedIn as a supplier of corporate working environments that could incorporate the entire value chain of a company.
Buy Klout!

BranchOut
Branch out more!
If you import my LinkedIn profile, then import my recommendations too. Those are also my proprietary content and will look as a good starting point for the Endorsements feature.
Because the page on Facebook is an iframe … branch out more! Do not limit yourself at Facebook. I could use a BranchOut page, which will feature my profile as homepage, on my website too. Simply Hired does a great job with its Job-a-matic by allowing me to promote jobs related to my website (e.g. GMAT ).
Offer “Jobs you may like” suggestions based on previous job name, industry, location and more.

BeKnown
Forget about just presenting data. Use those wonderful career tools available now mostly for US (based on the mandatory requirement of a zip code): Career mapping, Career Snapshots, and Career Benchmarking.

In conclusion:
I will continue to use all of them, but I will give more attention to the one that will help me more in building my personal brand. Each one of us is in the end a company in his/her-self as a professional.