Log out of LinkedIn, take off your misspelled name badge from that awkward industry event – there's a new way to network and it's anything but fusty. If you're single, you may have used Bumble to help yourself get a date, but now the female-first dating app is about to change how we network, too.
Bumble Bizz is a new feature that aims to help users make the all-important connections that lead to once-in-a-lifetime professional opportunities. It's less about job hunting per se and more about forging that magic "spark", which sounds far more exciting than browsing job listings and making LinkedIn endorsements. The free tool allows you to upload a digital CV, add your "skills" to highlight your talents and accolades and enables you to upload a portfolio of your work.
The feature, which launches in the UK, USA, Canada, France and Germany today, works in much the same way as Bumble Dating and Bumble BFF. Bumble Bizz connects users through geo-targeting, enabling them to then swipe left and right, and women must make the first move. With more than 20 million people already using Bumble worldwide, there's real potential for Bumble Bizz to overhaul the business world.
The geo-targeting aspect alone will make it far easier to find what you need in your area quickly, says Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble's founder and CEO. "We're hoping to make networking more effective, and efficient," she told Refinery29. "The swipe right mechanic makes it quick and easy to find what you need, and the geo-targeted element means the likelihood of finding someone – a photographer, graphic designer, events manager – who is around the corner and ready to connect in real life is more likely to happen."
It means you'll potentially no longer need to place an ad on a jobs board or post a desperate plea on social media the next time you need someone with a specific skill set. "The feedback we had from our users was that they needed quicker ways to complete potential networking conversations," Wolfe Herd explained.
Taking the formality out of networking also arguably makes it less intimidating and more accessible to the masses – rather than just a confident, privileged few who probably already have important industry connections. "Not everyone has the time or often the confidence to go to networking events where they’re expected to speak to total strangers," Wolfe Herd told us. "With Bizz – much like Bumble dating – we want to empower women to have the confidence to make the first move within a professional environment."
Age is also less important on Bumble Bizz than it may be elsewhere – profiles don't contain a user's age – making it easier for potential business partners to focus on each other's ability and skillset.
Depending on their industry of work, many younger adults consider LinkedIn, along with most jobs sites and traditional IRL networking events, to be old-fashioned and uninspiring, so what sets Bumble Bizz apart? According to Wolf Herd, users' progressive values will play a big role in making it a modern, relevant way to network. "We speak to an audience – men included – that believe in empowering women and rooting for equality in all areas of life, especially in business," she told us.
"Our hope is that by women making the first move, we filter out unwanted and unnecessary conversations that many women have experienced on other professional platforms and we allow them to set the tone and steer the conversation in the way that they see fit," she added. Potentially, this reduces the likelihood of another LinkedIn sexism scandal, in which human rights lawyer Charlotte Proudman received an unwanted message about her appearance from a partner 30 years her senior. Sign us up.