Smart Living | Lifestyle

Lifestyle | 13 Apr 2021

Clubhouse: Great business networking tool or a lot of hot air?

It's the audio-only, invite-only app that everyone is talking about and where everyone talks. But is it just another fad or a seriously useful way to grow your business?

Like most of us, Charlie Moult, founder of Source Breathwork, a health and wellbeing coaching business, didn’t have a clue what Clubhouse was until her friends started to rave about the new invite-only app. They encouraged her to join, saying it would be a great way to promote her business.

Given that, as lockdown dragged on, she “found it harder and harder to have conversations with family and friends which weren’t COVID-related”, she decided to give it a whirl.

She has found the app useful for networking and increasing connections, she says, as well as for talking to like-minded people about anything other than coronavirus.

“The benefit of Clubhouse is you can connect and talk to people who are passionate about the same things as you are,” she reflects.

The audio-only app, which is still in its beta phase and only available for iPhone users, has grown considerably in the last six months. It gives people the opportunity to jump on a virtual stage with celebrities or hear them speak – Oprah Winfrey and Ashton Kutcher signed up, giving the app a huge publicity boost.

But it’s not just about celebrities, Harvey Morton, technology expert, explains.

Tech expert Harvey Morton sitting at cafe table in front of laptop

Credits: Nelly Naylor Photography

“The chat rooms are like Zoom without any video,” says tech expert Harvey Morton

“If you’ve ever fancied yourself as a podcast guest or host, Clubhouse is like a giant interactive podcast discussion. Rooms that I’ve visited have been based on topics from meditation and self-care to investing,” he says.

“The purpose of the app is to connect users over audio, and it’s even been used to find new talent for popular musicals like Hamilton!”

If you’re bored of your colleagues or friends seeing your backgrounds or face, then the app is definitely for you.

“The chat rooms are like Zoom but without any video,” says Mr Morton. “But if you want to talk on the platform, you must be a panellist or raise your (virtual) hand and join the stage of speakers.”

It may sound intimidating, but Charlie, who has grown her breath work coaching business since being on the app, admits that as an introvert it has given her the chance to showcase her knowledge without it feeling like the face-to-face networking that can be so daunting.

The entrepreneur also says that, unlike other social media platforms, it feels more genuine: “The reason why it works so well for collaborations and getting clients is that people can ask you questions and find out who you are.”

Sarah Jordan, founder You Underwear

Credits: Alice Webb

Entrepreneur Sarah Jordan says she finds Clubhouse useful for learning from other business leaders

Sarah Jordan, who runs a small sustainable fashion brand called You Underwear, likes Clubhouse for its community vibe.

“I’m a solo founder so it’s really useful to make connections with people doing the same thing,” she says.

“I personally benefit from hearing and talking to founders that are ahead of me in their business journey. While it gives me the space to share my failures too – and hopefully others can learn from my mistakes.”

The business owner says that she also uses it for personal pursuits and has listened to talks about subjects such as dating. She has also started private rooms to chat to friends on the platform, when Zoom fatigue hit.

In February, the app was said have around 10 million users and Sarah believes its popularity is down to the fact that “we’re all desperate for connection at the moment, but also very bored of Zoom, so it’s the perfect combination”.

New app, new scam

However, the app’s popularity has meant it’s been a target for scammers.

Currently not available for Android users, hackers created a fake Clubhouse app in late March, to trick Android users into downloading it. But instead of gaining access to the app they were hit by a malware trojan named ‘BlackRock’ – which can be used to steal personal data.

If you’re using it to network or learn, Harvey Morton advises caution, as you don’t know who’s genuine or who’s not – as is the case elsewhere on the internet.

Clubhouse App Store logo
Clubhouse is currently only avilable to iPhone users and to join, you need to be invited by another user

“Make sure that you declutter your followers regularly and get rid of anyone who isn’t offering value to your business or learning,” he says.

When it comes to buying anything from Clubhouse users, he recommends using well-known payment platforms like PayPal, so you have buyer protection if they prove to be fraudulent and vanish on you.

“Do your research and ensure that the person you’re buying from has a good reputation on the platform. A Google search of the user could reveal forums where other people say they’ve been scammed, so make sure who you’re talking to is legit,” he adds.

But with the average person already spending up to 145 minutes on other social media platforms, will Clubhouse just be another time-wasting app?

Sarah admits to turning off her notifications so she isn’t distracted by the app all day. And Charlie makes sure she only uses the app at set times.

“Like any social media platform, it can take over,” says Sarah. “You just need to make sure you have some balance.”

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