Monday, October 30, 2006

Its Professional Networking!

Social Networking sites have emerged as a great way to catch up with old friends and make new friends. But, they have been frowned upon by businesses as a distraction from work. I have met many professionals who have confessed that they try to keep their profiles and conversations as conservative as possible. They try to avoid putting up wild photos etc. because they don't want their online profile to have a negative impact professionally. Most companies today do not encourage their employees to visit these sites, especially not from the workplace.

But now, there is a new kind of online networking - "Business Networking"! Although Business networking sites such as LinkedIn, Ryze, Spoke and Jigsaw have been around for a long time their success has been limited. Hoover’s, a unit of Dun & Bradstreet, and Visible Path, hopes to change that with the introduction of a free service called Hoover’s Connect. It is to offer visitors to the ability to mine their networks to find helpful connections with prospective clients or business partners.

According to the New York times,

The service, which is being previewed starting today on, requires little effort, but it does take a little trust. Users who visit are shown the site’s typical collection of information regarding businesses, including contact information, sales statistics and key executives.
But those who sign up for Connect can download software from Visible Path that makes note of whom a user messages via e-mail and how frequently (it does not monitor the content of the communications). The service tracks activities within Microsoft Outlook, the dominant business e-mail system, and will eventually include
Web-based e-mail systems like Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo Mail.
Im not very clear about how this site will actually help build business contacts, but I guess the concept here is similar to, where you can find out who is connected to whom through social and professional networks.

As the New York Times article says, we start with the assumption that enough users have fed contacts into the system to make such connections possible. But Paul Pellman, an executive vice president of Hoover’s, said in the aricle that because the site was promoting the service prominently to its two million monthly users, establishing a strong base should not be difficult.


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