The dating app has turned its hand to professional connections with Bumble Bizz
As far as office taboos go, mixing romance with your career is a well-known no-no. But, for feminist dating app Bumble, the combination has created a surprisingly successful hybrid. Meet Bumble Bizz, the app’s new networking section that lets you swipe through professional profiles – it’s LinkedIn meets Tinder.
Whilst traditional networking tactics could see sweaty-palmed professionals manically ‘work the room’, extolling their skillset between mouthfuls of canapés, Bumble Bizz offers a more relaxed approach to the networking scene. Users can create a profile that details their job title, a short bio on what they’re looking for and a section of more detailed info, before they swipe through potential professional matches at their leisure. Once matches have been made, the usual Bumble rules apply; women have 24 hours to start a conversation, otherwise the connection expires.
Like the dating equivalent, the app pulls information from your Facebook profile: users need to have their job titles listed there so Bumble can access them – a possible flaw for those with a strict professional/personal social media split. Fortunately, there’s the option to upload a photo, so no need to salvage a semi-decent shot from your blurry-eyed Facebook pics.
The networking section hopes to follow in the successful footsteps of the original Bumble, a matchmaking app which has registered 21 million users and facilitated over 3bn sent messages to date.
By empowering women to make the first move in Bumble Bizz, we expect to see the same positive behaviour
“Bumble Bizz instantly connects you with potential mentors, industry leaders, brands - and maybe your next business partner,” promises the website. Indeed, a few quick swipes offered a pleasing variety of opportunities; from the services of personal trainers and yoga instructors to graduates seeking internships and new business ventures looking for contacts.
Just like the original model and the 2016 edition designed to help users find friends (Bumble BFF), Bumble Bizz uses a photo verification tool to ensure user’s identities are authentic. As well as the usual profile photo, users are encouraged to treat the app as a digital CV by uploading image examples of previous work and filling out Bumble templates about career goals. The professional section runs through the main Bumble app, meaning you can romance, mate-date and network with tailored profiles, whilst separate networks ensure that potential business partners don’t see those snaps of you hammered in Ibiza.
But Bumble Bizz hopes to offer more than just a digital alternative to traditional networking.
“By empowering women to make the first move in Bumble Bizz, we expect to see the same positive behaviour and low abuse rates we’ve seen on our other platforms,” Bumble announced, speaking to the Drum.
Just as Bumble dating hoped to eliminate the sexually explicit introductions that are rife on Tinder, the professional section aims to offer a ‘more comfortable’ platform for women to network. Whilst many understand LinkedIn’s professional setting, reports indicate that some users may use the platform in search of a different kind of connection. In 2015, British barrister Charlotte Proudman’s complaint went viral after she posted a screenshot of a message she was sent by fellow lawyer Alexander Carter-Silk – the senior partner invited her to connect after commenting on her 'stunning profile picture' that would 'win the prize for the best LinkedIn picture I have ever seen.'
Does a female-first networking app offer a solution for the harassment women have experienced on online professional networks?
According to an investigation by the Sunday Times, hundreds of women have also experienced similar inappropriate advances through the professional platform. Some critics have suggested that such misuse of the site is encouraged by BeLinked, a dating app that pulls information directly from LinkedIn profiles to match users based on professional acumen - the app was founded by CEO Max Fischer after his own success of dating through LinkedIn (though it has no official affiliation with the platform).
But is a female-first networking app the right solution for the harassment women have experienced on online professional networks? Whilst championing women in business and connecting entrepreneurs is no doubt positive, could the app be encouraging the avoidance of sexism issues in business instead of addressing them? I can’t help thinking that there shouldn’t even be a market for a ‘safer’ networking platform for women.
Despite this, Bumble Bizz offers a great alternative to stuffy LinkedIn profiles, offering a sense of creativity and fun to digital networking. Swipe right for professional partnerships that catch your eye, or left for those who don’t quite fit your requirements. Whether the app will lead to anything more serious is yet to be revealed.
Find out more about Bumble Bizz here.