How This New Professional Social Network Is Approaching 40 Million Users

10/12/2016 05:29 pm ET Updated Oct 13, 2016

Users of the professional social network LinkedIn may have recently witnessed an increase in content appearing on their timelines from a new network of professionals over at BeBee

The Madrid-based social network has created a huge buzz by picking up 10 million users in its first year. The company plans to exceed 40 million users by 2017 and become Spain's first unicorn startup. There seems to be something very special going on that users are swarming toward.

Many forget that it took the mighty LinkedIn 13 years to reach eight million users in Spain. Already 4.5 million Spaniards have signed up to BeBee. CEO Javier Camara reveals that the secret sauce to the meteoric rise is a mix of innovation and "affinity marketing." 

The platform concentrates on matching professionals who have mutual interests and skill sets to help build business relationships, rather than just contacts. BeBee is about professional networking through personal interests and hobbies.

In this digital age, we are finally realizing the importance of personalization and niching down. Javier has discovered that our interests are generating much more professional engagement and better business opportunities on the platform. 

Online, users have traditionally lived a double life, with Jekyll and Hyde characteristics. We all know someone with two Twitter accounts--one for the home persona and another with their template corporate beliefs. We have finally evolved to a position where we can stop playing games and allow our genuine personality shine.

The platform encourages users to display their personal brand in addition to their professional profile. It's time to give potential employers an opportunity to see the whole person and not just a digitized representation of their resume. 

Anyone who is looking for new employees will readily admit that finding an individual with the right skills is the easiest part. It's finding someone who will compliment the team dynamics already in place that is the hardest aspect of employing someone new. 

Affinity-based networking connects people in a way that allows their relationship to develop on a whole different level, versus a concept of connection that consists only of adding layers of contacts.

Users of BeBee are also enjoying greater engagement with the blog posts they are creating than on other platforms such as LinkedIn and Medium. Javier advised that people hate arbitrary algorithms and favoritism. 

Many professionals are feeling fooled because, after several years of hard work building their network, their content is being filtered. BeBee is much more democratic because it assures you will always reach 100 percent of your followers.

Users of the service are referred to as bees and affinity groups are hives. Content providers are producing honey and then sharing the buzz with those who have the same interests. It's a simple concept, but it works and is providing fantastic engagement through relevance.

With a refreshing outlook that feels much more friendly than other networks, it's great to have the ability to put a personality behind the faceless resume. Sure we are all professionals, but our hobbies and interests provide a much deeper insight into what motivates us as individuals.

Social networks that still believe in 100 percent organic reach do seem to be in short supply at the moment. Moving away from annoying algorithms to allow users to control their own destiny with their branding could be BeBee's silver bullet.

Although Javier is happy leading this niche market, the company is currently looking for ambassadors to help continue the phenomenal growth. When I asked just how big and bright he thinks the future will be for his startup, he replied, "The truth is, we believe that BeBee is going to be bigger than Twitter or LinkedIn, just to set two examples."

Check out my interview with BeBee CEO Javier Cãmara on my podcast, in which we talk about niching down, simplifying and personalizing everything. We also discuss whether providing an alternative to algorithms will help the company reach 40 million users.

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