BranchoutSometimes, it’s the little features that mean a lot for the future direction of a company. BranchOut, a site for creating a professional presence on Facebook, recently soft launched what could be a highly disruptive new service.

BranchOut users can now connect with other users that they are not Facebook friends with. Native BranchOut connections are a minor change with major implications for recruiters.

Rick Marini, CEO of BranchOut, told Recruiter.com, “BranchOut heard the requests from recruiters that wanted a way to connect with other professionals within Facebook, in a safe and secure way, and I am very excited to announce the launch of BranchOut Connections. BranchOut members can now share their work history, education and skills data with others members, without becoming Facebook friends.  This is an important step for BranchOut to provide robust career networking functionality within Facebook.”

Recruiters always want to leverage the hundreds of millions of user profiles on Facebook. However, recruiters often find that recruiting on Facebook is like trying to fix a muffler with a toothbrush. BranchOut makes Facebook the right tool for recruiting and professional connection. BranchOut essentially overlays a professional platform on top of Facebook – adding user data fields for work history and professional description. It turns your existing Facebook friend network into a Linkedin-esque  professional network for work related discovery.

However, because BranchOut leveraged the Facebook friend mechanism as the exclusive method of connection, recruiters were still left in a bind. Users were beholden to expansion of their network through Facebook friending – which to many is as intimate of an experience as inviting someone into your home.

Last night, BranchOut updated their service to include the ability to natively connect with other users on BranchOut. This means that recruiters can build a connection network without the intrusiveness of Facebook friending. The application still leverages the 600 million-plus Facebook users, but no longer relies on Facebook for its method of connection.

BranchOut plans to launch more fully developed recruitment services in the near future, but now may be the time to start connecting. The early super connectors in any social network become the network hubs of the future.

in Recruiting with Facebook]