So, I got your attention. First, social netwroking is not only for business but increasingly becoming critical for business.
The term, sounds like an oxymoron: do you know of any other type of networking? Networking has been the most powerful tool for business development. Whether it is to land a deal or to get a job, networking delivers results. In the "old" economy, country clubs, chambers of commerce, golf clubs, alumni associations, trade associations and an assortment of business networking groups provided the avenue for networking. Churches and temples were not built because god wouldn't show up anywhere else or wouldn't heed your prayers if you prayed alone. They were the first and still the most powerful platforms for networking.
Networking has gone online. http://www.classmates.com/ was one of the first to make a move in this space. An assortment on online groups powered by online bulletin boards also provided the first platform for online networking.
Online networking matured with the launch of http://www.myspace.com/. It is a right of passage for teenagers to have a presence on this website. What AOL instant messenger was a few years ago, Myspace is now.
http://www.facebook.com/ has solidified this concept. http://www.youtube.com/ made is multimedia by taking the boob-tube online with user generated content. Photo sharing sites such as http://www.flicr.com/, and music sharing sites such as http://www.napster.com/ also found their place in this universe.
There are many other forms and platforms for all types of people to connect with each other for purposes of exchanging information about health and sharing in each others grief to sharing pictures of each others' spouses and often sharing the spouses themselves.
Almost every form of human interaction has found a home on the web. The human experience is being digitized as we speak.
Online networking has now come of age. Started by the above mentioned platforms for people to connect with each other, the movement has now found new business models for people to overtly monetize these connections. Euphemistically, this online networking is called social networking for business. Among its key players are:
- http://www.linkedin.com/ provides a platform to share your network with others
- http://www.spoke.com/ provides the ability to connect with millions of people around the globe
- http://www.jigsaw.com/ provides a capability similar to the others in this space with their own twist to the formula
- http://www.zoominfo.com/ profiles people off their web presence but the formula is similar to the others in all other aspects.
- http://www.hovers.com/ has its own version of social networking.
There are obvious advantages to these platforms. The old business adage of it's not what you know but who you know is being proven yet again and in the most powerful enabler known to mankind the internet.
Theoretically, the internet has brought to life the promise made by an old telco NYNEX for those who remember or care: "we're all connected."
Are there implications for us business people? Are there imperatives that need to be factored in our business calculations i.e. should we factor this in our eStrategy? Yes to both questions.
But first, lock up your teenager because with all the other teenie boppers on MySpace, there are middle age perverts looking for their prey. Seriously though, if you do not have a social networking strategy for your business, you are in the same position as companies that did not want a website 10 years ago. Those that moved quickly, reap the benefits in getting the domain names, recognition, traffic and resulting revenues for eternity. Here are a few reasons to pay attention:
- Teenagers grow up your future customer is on these sites and getting used to this medium. Do they associate your brand with these preferences?
- Adults also network online most would be ashamed to admit that they are on MySpace but they are. I had one person actually ask me, "is it OK for a 40 year old to be on MySpace?" My answer is always the same, "as long as you are not a predator, it is OK to be anywhere!"
- Business is being conducted through these sites. Slowly but surely, YouTube has business focused videos. The more business focused sites have the obvious advantage and you should use them Here is an article on the business use of social networking>>