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Social networking & Ecommerce

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Sunday December 25, 2005 )

In recent months, I’ve been getting numerous invitations to join social networking type services; both ecommerce related and otherwise.

In essence, an “ecommerce” social networking service operates on the same set of principles as sites such as Friendster. A group of people starts out the service by inviting business colleagues to join their personal network and the process is then repeated by those who join. Introductions are made between people whom otherwise wouldn’t know each other via these connections. It’s very much like the Chinese business concept of Guanxi – except as with anything Internet related, it’s automated.

For example, let’s say I’d really like to contact CEOs of merchant companies that offer shopping cart software. I’m unable to get my message to Company X CEO through the usual channels as his staff keep stonewalling me. I notice in my social networking service that Company X CEO is connected to an associate that is in my personal network. I contact my associate, stating that I’d really like to be introduced to this person, and, in theory, bam – an introduction is sent to Company X CEO via my associate. This bypasses the usual channels in the form of a recommendation from someone that the CEO knows and therefore, that person is more likely to respond to me.

With so many of these services now operating, it’s difficult and unwise to join them all. I know of people that are signed up with a dozen of them and they spend a lot of time just inviting people, recommending others or maintaining their profile. It’s more of a ego boosting exercise; without any real benefits to them in the form of establishing really productive relationships.

Personally, I think it’s best to choose just one and focus your efforts on that. I’m currently exploring LinkedIn – it’s free to join and currently has around 4 million users. It’s not totally ecommerce oriented, but there is a very strong pure online business presence among the membership.

If you’d like an invitation to join, just post a comment here with your name, URL and email address.

Know of any other good social networking services that have an online business bias? Post some details in this thread, I’d love to hear about them!


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