Monday, March 31, 2008

April Discussion Group Topic - Virtual Networking

Morning Discussion Group:
Tuesday April 15th, 6:45 – 7:30 am
B Java Coffee and Tea
5510 Lafayette Road (corner of Lafayette and 56th) on the Northwest side

Evening Discussion Group:
Tuesday April 22nd, 7:00 – 8:30 pm
D’Vine A Wine Bar
5252 East 82nd (corner of 82nd and Allisonville Rd) on the Northeast side

This month’s topic is Virtual Networking. We’ll get the discussion started with an article from The Times Online How To Network Online. There are lots of different tools out there, and it can be somewhat overwhelming. I’ll be spending the next few weeks trying out different tools and sharing my experiences. I won’t pretend to put together an all encompassing list, and invite you to share your favorite tools.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention LinkedIn. I’ve had a profile for the past few years. I think it’s a great way to manage my professional contacts. I’ve been able to use it to track down former colleagues. I like the search functions. I’ve used it to reconnect with people I worked with at other companies. I haven’t used it to actively network with people I don’t know though that is one of the selling points. I’ve opted for the free account, so I can’t speak to the benefits of the membership upgrades. I’d love to hear how others are using this site.

A friend recommended a similar site to LinkedIn called Naymz. It has a lot of the same functionalities as LinkedIn but some nice additional features. I just recently created my Naymz profile and was really impressed by the tool. It allowed me to import all of my contacts from LinkedIn making it easy to send out invitations. The site features a RepScore for each profile. The higher the RepScore, the more has been done to verify the information in the profile. As part of my profile I was able to easily link to this blog, my LinkedIn profile, and other web sites. It only took me a few minutes to create my profile, and send invitations.

One of the tools recommended on Naymz for verifying your online identity is Trufina. By filling out a profile and answering some questions (and paying a fee of $4.95) you can get an on line ID. You can then use for Trufina ID to manage and protect your online identity information. I created by online ID card and will provide updates on how I’ve used it.

The next site recommended was Squidoo. Squidoo lets you create a simple one page website on a topic of your choice. (They call them “lenses”). I tried it out by creating a simple Women & Hi Tech Lens. It took me a few tries to get the lens finally launched and I’m not too sure that I’m all that excited by the result. I’ll need to spend some more time looking over what other people have done before I decide how useful the site really is.

The final site I checked out was the Fast Company site Company of Friends. Since I love the magazine, I was very excited about checking out the site. The site allows you to create a profile, features on line groups, allows you to build a network, and has lots of other features. I’ve signed up for a few of the discussion group and even created a Women in Science & Technology Group to see if there might be others out there interested in joining our discussions.

As I said, I’m just getting started with many of these sites and will be updating my experiences over the coming weeks.

No comments: