In addition to using LinkedIn for networking ,what if you could go to a focused social network of people who (1) do what you do or (2) who work in your industry? You could connect with experts rather than follow influencers. You could meet your next boss!

A social nichework is an online community of people who share a common interest. Remember when apps exploded on the scene and the phrase, “There’s an app for that,” became popular? Well, now we can almost say, “There’s a network for that.” For example, if you love cats, check out Catster. Are you more of a dog person? Check out Dogster.

But what does this have to do with your career? When thinking about social networks to join, people tend to go to big platforms such as LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and Facebook and ignore indy niche communities. But these nicheworks might be a goldmine for learning and connecting with people who can help your career. They are also a great place to investigate different career ideas you may have.

In fact, the people who can help your career the most might be more active on a social nichework than on LinkedIn. You won’t know this unless you look. Don’t only participate in nicheworks, but don’t ignore them! Take time to research. You might find a small community that adds value to your career.

Here are examples of nicheworks:

  • recruiter.com – A community for job seekers and recruiters with tips, advice, and tools for both audiences.
  • deviantart.com – Artists showcase their work, network, and get feedback. From tattoo art and photography, to graphic design and 3D art, this niche group can help you get noticed in the art scene.
  • lawlink.com – The site is rich with videos, documents, and blogs for legal types. Members can join groups and forums, ask questions, and look at job postings.
  • govloop.com – Called the “Facebook for Feds” because it is the largest federal employee network out there.
  • stackoverflow.com – The Q&A network for programmers. Targeted by recruiters looking for programming talent!
  • wiser.org – A network for social activists working on issues such as human rights, poverty, hunger, climate change, and more.
  • biznik.com – With the rise in contract workers and entrepreneurs, Biznik was designed for independent business people. If you want to start a business, have started a business, or want to turn your hobby into a money-making business, the Biznik community offers support.
  • bytes.com – A network for IT professionals and developers.
  • 2degreesnetwork.com – A community for people in the sustainability business and people in charge of their companies’ sustainability practices.
  • researchgate.net – A community for research scientists to build their reputations and make their research more visible.
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