The question comes from Jennifer Armitstead, who just started a Utah County (think: 40 miles south of Salt Lake City) job club. This is one of two independent job clubs that I know of here and I’m really excited to see how it rolls out.
I asked her what the URL was for the job club so I could promote it and she responded with this:
I don’t have a website set up for this. I figured that I could just use a LinkedIn Group. I hadn’t even thought of doing a website. Do you think I need one?
Utah County Job Club LinkedIn group: http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=2086511
Understand I’m grossly biased because my professional background runs deep in website development, intranet, marketing sites, eCommerce sites, etc. I could not imagine a LinkedIn Group replacing a website for an organization. In general, I think a volunteer job club needs a website – it’s free (or cheap) and is googleable.
Having said that, here are my counterpoints. I went to the LinkedIn Group to become a member. There are already 140 members. That isn’t a ton, but consider this is quite niche and new. I was impressed (I guess I expected about 50).
- This Group allows others to network with one another online …. if you meet at the club and join the Group, you can message one another, regardless of your connection. You don’t get that from just a website.
- Also, Jen can message all Group members, so she essentially has a free email distribution system (like Constant Contact or iContact – but at no charge). This is really powerful. You don’t get that from just a website.
- She also gets a bit of viral marketing when people join the Group, or contribute to Group Discussions, etc. You don’t get that from just a website.
It probably took all of three minutes to set up. Of course you can do some of this with a Ning site, but you know LinkedIn is going to be promoted quite a bit to this audience, and people will get accounts (if they don’t have them already). Trying to get someone to sign up for, or USE, a site like Ning is a stretch (I think).
So, back to Jen’s question… do you need a website?
I still recommend one – have one of the job club people volunteer to set up a kewl design and put it on your server… have things like time of meetings, locations, etc. but definitely, definitely point people to the LinkedIn Group, because of the functionality you get there.
Note: many job clubs complement their on-site meetings with a Yahoo Group… something to think about (but realize it brings the task of administration with it).