How to Create a Professional Networking Site With WordPress and BuddyPress
A professional networking site has different requirements than your standard personal social networking site. The style of interaction is entirely different. Social networking sites that focus on sharing one’s personal life tend to be based on more casual relationships between people and usually include a less formal approach to the presentation of one’s profile and activity. Professional networking sites, however, often have similar features to non-professional networking sites but the user’s approach is entirely different and sharing is much more intentional. As a result, professional networking sites often have a greater struggle with getting users to share and interact with each other’s content.
There are a number of excellent plugins that will help to transform your BuddyPress installation into a social networking site where professionals can share relevant content and forge new relationships. The following plugin recommendations will help you in the process of building a professional networking site with BuddyPress that maximizes interaction among members.
15 Recommended Plugins for Professional Networking Sites Using BuddyPress
This is a very important plugin for a BuddyPress network where the Friends component might be considered unprofessional or limit interaction between users. BuddyPress Followers creates connections that are more in the style of Twitter and do not need to need to be confirmed or rejected. In this scenario you’ll want to turn off the Friends component to eliminate confusion.
This plugin gives members the ability to create their own simple portfolios within your community. Members can visually showcase their projects, achievements, current work, professional links, etc. It adds a new tab in the user profile listing their projects as well as a new page listing all projects.
BP Resume enhances professional networking with basic online resume capabilities. It adds a resume page to BuddyPress profiles where members can add education details, professional experience and list skills. This is an easy-to-use plugin that works entirely on the front-end.
Virtually every BuddyPress site can benefit from this plugin. It makes it easy for users to add photos, videos and links to the activity stream through an interface that is very similar to Facebook. This free plugin from WPMU DEV will help to exponentially increase sharing among professionals on your social network.
BuddyStream is another plugin that will help to increase content sharing on your site. It lets you synchronize your social networks with BuddyPress so that users can share across both platforms. This means that even if your users are more comfortable sharing on other networks, they can still regularly post content to your BuddyPress site by syncing their networks with the activity stream.
This plugin converts hashtags in the BuddyPress activity stream to link to all other references on the site. This is a great way to help your users connect on topics of similar interests, even if they haven’t been regularly visiting the site to keep up with what other users are posting.
This plugin gives users a bookmarklet that they can use to easily share content from any webpage to the BuddyPress activity stream, similar to the say the Pinterest bookmarklet works. This is a fantastic plugin for increasing content sharing on your social network’s activity stream. It makes it very simple to share articles from anywhere on the web.
I wouldn’t recommend this for all professional networks but there are some professionals who may be greatly inspired by earning points and awards for their interaction on the site. This plugin can provide a strong motivator for members who perform better when they are recognized for their participation.
This plugin lets you create different sidebars for display on the various BuddyPress component pages. It is very useful if you aren’t starting out with a BuddyPress theme that makes this possible. With this plugin installed you’ll be able to tailor your sidebars to help increase activity on the network.
This plugin adds a progress bar in the member profiles to display the percentage of data that has been completed. This can help to motivate members to make sure they finish adding their details.
This plugin gives you the option to create your own default image for group avatars. Many group creators often forget to upload an avatar and so the default “mystery man” avatar is used, but it can make your site look rather generic. This plugin helps you to brand your social network better and make it look a bit more professional.
BP Group Reviews is an excellent plugin for getting members to provide feedback on groups. Once installed, users can leave reviews and star ratings on groups in the social network. You can see a demo on: buddypress.org/extend/plugins
This plugin adds a single blog to each group. Group members are added to the blog and will have blog roles as set by the groupblog admin settings. It includes P2 integration and frontend posting, so it’s very easy for users to participate.
BuddyPress Group Email gives group admins the opportunity to communicate with their group members and encourage participation on the network. It’s easy to use because the group admin doesn’t have to locate the emails addresses for each of the group members and provides a communication center for sending messages that will hit a user’s inbox, even if notifications are turned off.
This is a simple plugin from BuddyDev that adds Google maps to group profiles. It can be enabled/disabled on a per group basis and includes a widget to showcase the map in sidebar.
The plugins listed here are not the only ones that will work well for building a professional networking site with BuddyPress. There are plenty more among the 412 plugins currently available the platform, but everything comes down to the specific needs of your community. It’s better to only add and keep features that will be used in order to keep your professional site leaner and easy to use.