Looking for business networking? Don’t know where and how you spread the word about yourself or your new venture? Fear not. The online world has a solution for you, too.
You may have heard words like ‘Ryze-ing’ in passing and wondered, “What the devil is that?” Well, it’s a place where people go looking for other people. It’s somewhat like Orkut (and Orkut-ing) but with a purpose. You can look up people who are in the same sphere of work as you to network with, and these sites have been known to land some people a job or two as well. So, which are the ones that are good and offer more than just listing your name and resume?
Ryze (www.ryze.com) sits on top of the pile but LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is not too far behind either. Ryze allows users to create a page for themselves with a small detail of their work life and put in why they are there. Fairly straightforward! Other users can then find you and network with you. Finding old colleagues is another reason many people join these sites and you would be surprised with the number of people you knew who are registered with one or more such sites.
“I have changed a few jobs and my most recent assignment has brought me out of India. But keeping in touch with old colleagues is important and I have found these sites to be a good way of doing that,” says Amitabh Bakshi, country manager, VFS Thailand.
But apart from just staying in touch, these sites also offer a way to locate new business opportunity. Says Hamida Parkar, a creative professional: “What is great is that you have access to information on so many people from your own field. You can use this information to contact them for business opportunities. It’s like a ready, solicited database.” She also allays fears about the ‘cyber goon’ in business networking sites. “I haven’t come across any people who misuse the sites since it is in their interest to be honest out here. One wrong turn and you could be locked out… the communities are normally very close-knit.”
While Ryze and LinkedIn are more for networking and building contacts across professions, some dedicated sites which are starting to show up will bring only one type of community together. But the one-dimensional approach may not appeal to many. “I prefer a place where I can meet other professionals, too. I am already in touch with people from within my profession,” says Parkar.
But the networking doesn’t normally stop at the site. Ryze-rs, for instance, organize something called a Mixer. These are held across cities and are organized to facilitate face-to-face meetings of like-minded professionals. It’s a good way to interact for some business and some fun. A Mixer is essentially where a member has to sign up and pay for his ‘seat,’ and the time spent can be fairly beneficial.
LinkedIn users are primarily interested in keeping a sound network of users around them. There are steps to completing your profile, effectively a detailed bio-data of your work.
Once done, you just need to sit back and watch the fun. Based on the companies where you have worked, others from the same company are shown and if you know them, just link up. And, so, your network grows.
But occasionally, there are also job offers and postings to be found. Unfortunately, the search functionality of most of these sites may throw up more foreign results but, in today’s world, even that’s a good opportunity.
Slightly different from the ‘business networking’ sites is Plaxo (www.plaxo.com), where you can transfer your entire email address book. Any of those friends using Plaxo would be connected instantly to you and whatever changes they do to their profile would be notified to you as well.
So, if someone has changed a job, you will know. If someone’s birthday or anniversary is coming up, you will know. If someone is looking for, or offering, a job, you will know!
Information is power, and these sites offer effective methods of staying in touch, enhancing contact and even growing your network. It was once said “the network is the computer”.
It’s also true that “the network is the business”.