Monday, April 30, 2007

Cambridge Who's Who releases a new article about online networking entitled, “Online Networking for Fun and Profit” by Victoria Mitchell

Cambridge Who's Who releases a new article about online networking entitled, “Online Networking for Fun and Profit” by Victoria Mitchell.

April 30, 2007 -- Cambridge Who's Who releases a new article about online networking entitled, “Online Networking for Fun and Profit” by Victoria Mitchell.

The evolution of the Web has shown that social websites are here to stay as effective and fun platforms for maintaining friendships and making new acquaintances. They offer instant Internet gratification without users expending effort to really understand and know another person.

Read the Cambridge Who's Who news blog and learn who's who in our networking community.

It’s also common knowledge that an essential advantage of Web 2.0 over Web 1.0 is its ability to capture collective intelligence, turning the Web into a powerful communal brain. That evolution has created extraordinary opportunities for people to build their business or professional credentials. In addition to using the Internet to find fun and friendship, savvy executives and professionals use the power of networking to add to their knowledge base and expand their virtual Rolodex, resulting in professional growth and increased profits.

That’s where professional networking sites enter the picture. Rather than an online singles scene, professional networking sites serve as virtual business conferences for sharing information, knowledge and services.

Many kinds of professional networking sites exist, and as with any product or service, it’s important to know what you’re buying into—even if it’s free. One clear distinction among online networks is between those that are subscription-based and those that are invitation-based. Subscription-based networks, open to anyone who chooses to join, are familiar to just about everyone. Not as well-known—intentionally—are sites that are open by invitation only.

Executives and professionals who want to ensure that they will be networking with peers as accomplished and knowledgeable as they are often bypass subscription-based networks in favor of invitation-only sites. While the membership of invitation-only sites may be small in relation to open sites, the database of invitation-only sites can be far richer, because members have been vetted by the site’s research team. For instance, members of Cambridge Who's Who, a leading invitation-only site open exclusively to executives and professionals chosen for membership on the basis of their accomplishments and credentials, have private access to more than 200,000 Who's Who-worthy executives, professionals and entrepreneurs. Wouldn’t you rather have someone else do the cherry-picking rather than deal with strangers with whom you have little in common?

Registering with most subscription-based websites is like saying, “I’m going to start my own Who's Who from scratch.” Typically, these websites require building a network person by person. With the database, members enter keywords, get contact info for tens—often hundreds—of Cambridge members, and build “instant communities” based on common interests, line of business, geographical location and other variables.

Cambridge Who's Who members interact with people in their own fields and with members who bring fresh insights—and potential business. Bankers and educators network with other bankers and educators; they also exchange ideas with retailers and consultants. One caveat: networking is community-building, and that’s not going to happen if you market your product or service right off the bat. It’s human nature to do business with people we know, so establish connections first, and promote your business second. Many Cambridge Who's Who members who build “sales pitch-less relationships” get the first call when members need their service or product.

Entrepreneurs who have their own website (and who doesn’t?) may see networking through organizations like Cambridge Who's Who as a timewaster. After all, anyone can buy their product from their website. But think again: Businesses not only need a website, they need to tell people the site exists. Online networking is a great way to do that.

Networking on sites like has another advantage, especially if you’re on the shy side or are pressed for time. It doesn’t require (although it may precede) face-to-face communication, which can be nervous-making (if you’re shy) or time-consuming (for the schedule challenged). Introverts can use a script to prepare for a phone conversation. And even the busiest among us has more time for a phone call or email than a meeting across town.

Online networking also helps make the most of business travel. Cambridge Who's Who member Joseph P. Cool, president of Cool & Associates, Inc., says, “To prepare for a trip to Reno, NV, I used to identify members who would be interested in a concept I’m developing: Business and Marketing Tridents. My fellow honorees were more than willing to meet with me. If we had not had Cambridge Who's Who in common, they probably would not have met with me so readily. It looks like we will be working together on some projects, and I have Cambridge Who's Who to thank for making the initial contact so easy.”

One last suggestion: Hone those time management skills. Some Cambridge Who's Who members find reading Who's Who profiles so fascinating that they spend too much time researching virtual colleagues. Remember, online networking is not a procrastination technique—it’s a fantastic business tool!