Online Social networking has come of age. From merely making friends and socialising, they now let you get business done and clinch deals. We spoke to five professionals who have netted gains through such interaction
Partner-Proprietor, In-ovation, Calcutta
Ryze is a network that comprises experienced enthusiastic professionals who exchange knowledge and ideas-the very reason why I logged on to it a couple of months back.
The network lets me reach out to new people, track down long-lost friends, share and receive business proposals and make use of my communication skills. There’s also a lot of goodwill I have gained-an asset that competition cannot undersell or destroy. Apart from business, eople post their views on current happenings. Another important benefits is member "credibility." Profiles posted here are mostly correct: the fictitious ones get filtered overtime.
Logging onto the network has become part of a daily routine. The number of people you meet with depends on the way you interact with members. An active Ryzer makes five to seven contacts per week.
As for offline meetings, we have ‘mixers’: An open invitation detailing the time and place of the meet is sent to all the members of a particular group. Such get-togethers take place once every month and result in plenty of interaction on both, personal and the business fronts.
Marketing Manager, Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Pvt Ltd, Chennai
I joined Ryze in October 2003. First, a friend told me about this unique way of meeting people from diverse backgrounds and then, its personalised blog-like format caught my interest. I browse through the site three to four times a day and, on an average two to three contacts per week.
‘Mixers’ (offline meetings) take place frequently in various cities. Then there are one-to-one meetings wherein individuals meet to share their own personal thoughts or interests.
The benefits have been both personal as well as professional. I might come across a person pursuing trekking full-time, with whom I can tag along to pursue my hobby: These are personal benefits.
Being a marketing professional (with frequent cross-country trips), it has helped me forge ties with many potential business partners. Also, if I come across a person who owns a corporate gifts agency, I can touch base with that individual to get a good deal for my company. Above all though, I learn about other cities via their resident Ryzers. Their ‘tidbits’ serve as a pretty introduction when I criss-cross through that city.
Officer (Operations & MIS), ILFS, Mumbai
I became a member of the Friendster.com a year ago. Courtesy: a friend of mine who is quite active in this network. It’s been useful to keep in touch with friends, who have shifted out of Mumbai and are part of the network. E-mails do zip through and fro keeping us updated about the whereabouts of everyone in the group. Other than that, I have also got in touch with people who have turned out to be potential business contacts.
I log onto the network every two or three days. Yes, I do make a lot of contacts. I started with three and then went on to build a network of 50 people. They in turn have contacts themselves and thus I get introduced to many more. Friendster does encourage me to share information and exchange ideas and opinions about a particular topic that the group discusses online. Also, I get to know about diverse cultures and meet people from different societies and strata. A cool way of keeping with the times!
Assistant Manager, Nicholas Piramal India Ltd
Friendster.com is a wonderful way of networking with people. I was introduced to this novel concept about six months back. You put up your profile, browse through other profiles and invite people whom you think share the same thoughts and interests. I do browse through the site once in a week and come in contact with quite a number of like-minded people, some of whom are mature professionals.
Business-wise, yes, it has been helpful. Here’s how: my work involves clinical research, which entails that the company provide insurance to patients being treated. While looking out for potential insurance providers, I came across an individual who did provide the same. We met, discussed the deal and have been doing business ever since.
Apart from that, it has helped me share and exchange opinions with other Friendster friends. I feel sites such as Friendster let you expand your horizon and increase your knowledge as well.
Orkut, Google.com’s take on online networking saw me becoming its member three months ago. I had no idea that such an idea was in place on the Web until my friend sent me an inivtation. Since then, I have been an active member within the community. It was here that I got to meet people, who shared my fascination for music.
I networked with them, and have gained a lot through our exchange of ideas. I log on to the Web site everyday to check for new messages, etc. I don’t add people at random. I restrict myself to those with whom I have had a proper correspondence. Till date I have 46 friends in Orkut. Offline meetings do happen but given my hectic schedule I have been able to attend just a few of them.
Orkut is a great pastime and has helped me adapt to attitudes which I would not have otherwise. It was through Orkut that I got to know about a drama production company called the Open Theatre group. I got through its auditions and am now looking forward to its upcoming venture.