Dating app Bumble wants to help you network

Men swipe right, but women make the first move
Men swipe right, but women make the first move

There's a fine line between dating and networking. But one company thinks both can coexist in the same app.

Bumble -- the dating app where women make the first move -- has launched its new service, Bumble Bizz, for finding career contacts. It comes more than one year after it was first teased by the company.

As with the original Bumble service, women send the first message after a mutual connection in the app is made.

Instead of attending in-person career networking events, Bumble Bizz will enable people to virtually network by swiping for contacts. Once matched, connections can chat in the app and setup meetings IRL.

Because the app is location-based, people will only see potential contacts who are nearby. While Bumble Bizz is accessible via Bumble's original app, the vertical intends to be unrelated to dating.

According to CEO and founder Whitney Wolfe Herd, a safe space is needed for women who are career networking, just as it is necessary for dating.

"Being solicited on LinkedIn is a real thing that happens," Wolfe Herd told CNN Tech.

She's experienced that discomfort first-hand -- and so have some of her female employees. This includes receiving comments on LinkedIn such as "professionally speaking, I think you're really beautiful."

Related: Dating app ditches swiping, requires phone calls

In response, some women have rejected LinkedIn invitation requests from men if they believe they're being pursued for the wrong reasons, such as for a date. Men who want to connect on a professional level can lose out.

"Men are used to getting turned down on LinkedIn, but what about men genuinely looking to connect with women in different industries?" she said. "Men and women both need to network and build their Rolodex."

The use of LinkedIn to find dates has been reported in recent years by sites such as the Atlantic and Glamour.

"There is a shield built into Bumble," said Wolfe Herd.

LinkedIn did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Bumble Bizz is Bumble's third vertical, behind its friendship-finding service Bumble BFF.

All three offerings can be found within the main Bumble app. Users can toggle between the verticals and set up different profiles with distinct profile pictures.

Bumble Bizz has a photo verification tool to keep the platform free of frauds, as well as space to include a digital resume, your skills, and examples of your work.

Related: Bumble founder created the app after experiencing online harassment

In the coming weeks, Bumble will roll out more features such as the ability to hide the app's dating functionality for those who may have used the dating service but are now in relationships (it will add a timestamp displaying when the account was frozen). "Our concern was: How do we make sure this doesn't cause any mistrust in relationships given how dating apps have been perceived?"

But individuals can choose to sign up just for Bumble Bizz.

Now available to users in USA, Canada, UK, France and Germany, it was expected to launch one year ago. But Wolfe Herd said the launch was delayed because people were still "getting accustomed" to the app's premise -- that women must make the first move. "We felt the moment wasn't right."

That changed when the team saw members use Bumble's existing services to network. Some would update their profile descriptions to state they were looking to match with people in certain industries or professions.

Although Bumble Bizz may be looking to address some of the complaints about LinkedIn, Wolfe Herd doesn't consider it a competitor.

"We're offering something on-demand and hyper-local with clear intentions," she said.

But it's not the only site to make the leap from dating to careers. Last year, eHarmony branched into career matchmaking with a new platform, Elevated Careers. However, the service was acquired by startup Candidate.Guru in August.

Mortgage

CNNMoney Sponsors