It is common to encounter success stories that begin with the words: “I’ve have been lucky in my life. I’ve made good friends and met like-minded people who have helped me from the beginning. Thanks to them I have achieved my dreams”. It is evident that not everyone reaches their goals and not everyone us is lucky enough to meet people who can direct their life towards success. The Internet epoch has introduced a tremendous new option in the realm of communication. Social networking through web-portals has gained popularity, providing individuals with an alternate form of communication. Internet communities have been created allowing users to exchange thoughts and build friendships based on similar interests. The contemporary net communities provide tools that support an individual’s spiritual and professional growth.
The social networking framework on the Internet is similar to our own social networking framework in real life. We gather for social networking in places where other individuals with similar interests are. For some parties or nightclubs would be where they would find the best networking opportunities. Depending on your interests it could be anywhere - athletic clubs, professional meetings, conferences, exhibitions, the opportunities are unlimited. Anywhere that there is a social gathering that piques ones interest there is an opportunity for social networking. Internet communities operate in a similar way. Individuals are drawn to these communities based upon their interests and those of their friends. After entering the community they begin to network with individuals who share similar interests. Those individuals also have their own network of contacts allowing for the number of contacts to grow in geometric progression.
If interests of persons in your friends list are really close to your, likely our friends’ network will develop quickly. In the case where some of your first contacts have similar interests, it is probable that your number of contacts will become independent and show a high quality growth.
These Internet communities can be divided on two basic groups: general interest community and professional business communities. I hope, the following table helps to get your bearings rapidly in great set of social networking services.
General interests’ community
|MySpace.com||The most popular community of this social networking category. It has a user-friendly interface and a wide variety of users.|
|Friendster.com||The largest community within this social networking category. It allows users to work with photo albums, blogs, and create a net of friends. This community also allows users to create joint file archives and broadcast messages within a given network of friends.|
|Hi5.com||This community provides all the basic functions of social networking but is most often used as a dating service.|
|MeetUp.com||This community is oriented on bringing together user groups based on their interests with the purpose meeting in the future in person.|
|Orkut.com||This community is accessed by invite only. It is an elite club where a user needs an invitation from one of community members in order to gain entry to it.|
|360.yahoo.com||This community requires the user to present him/herself and find the users with similar interests. It offers an integration with the popular exterior services such as Yahoo Groups and Flickr.com|
|Spaces.msn.com||The Spaces community has a comfortable interface of a personal space administration. In particular this service contains pictures uploading, which approaches to MS Windows Explorer. This service is able to spread within friends’ network news about blog updating through MS Messenger.|
|Hometown.aol.com||The America online community allows the user to create their own web page, decorate it, and notify the other users about its existence.|
|Whoat.com||This community connects users who are in the same location. It’s enough to set your location in the system and it will bring your together with those who are in the same zone as your mobile phone, PDA, PC.|
|Sms.ac||The community of “mobile” users. The project helps to create personal, mobile-available web space. Within this space the basic social networking options are provided.|
|Closedsociety.net||This community is accessed by invite only. A user needs an invitation from one of community members in order to gain entry to it.|
Professional business community
|LinkedIn.Com||This is the most well known professional community. The project is optimal for job seekers, researching professionals in certain fields, and for establishing contact with other professionals.|
|Ecademy.com||The different business fields professionals’ community. Paid participation.|
|OpenBC.com||Sometimes this project is being called euroversion of LinkedIn. Though OpenBC is inferior to LinkedIn in a number of participants. At the same time, OpenBC lets to adapt interface for user’s native language and provides a wide variety of many other services.|
|Spoke.com||Paid project. It helps to user in a new business prospective search.|
|Ryze.com||Project offers all the basic options for social networking and it are being used often as a general interests’ community.|
|Ziggs.com||The project lets to create users’ profiles, which are going to be indexed in search systems. The typical for search systems interface is being used for the business contacts finding.|
|Zerodegrees.com||This service is supposed to connect you with the influential people who could help to boost your career and business.|
|Tribe.net||This project includes both traits of General interests’ community and Professional business community. At present time Tribe is more often being used for social purposes. For example, you moved to a new city. In this case Tribe will help you to find out everything about the accommodation, restaurants, concerts and others.|
The legendary project LiveJournal.com can be called the pioneer of general interests’ community. It is quite possible that the mentioned project is the most active blogging system so far. In a recent time MySpace.com community gained the most popularity. This particular community became the first among the top requests of Google’s users in 2005 (http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist2005.html). This community counts more 47 million of users. The following is Friendster.com the previous leader (21 million). How did it manage to come out into leaders? The answer is obvious – the wide variety of free services. Besides the basic options of these kind of system, such as a personal page creating, conducting of blogs with the comments, photo albums and inner email, MySpace offers a lot of options for user’s pages arranging, creating the general interests’ microcommunities, the users ranging, conducting the forums, coverage of local events, co-participation in games and even musical online albums for songs’ authors creating. Undoubtedly, the large-scale players couldn’t leave without their attention such a “piece of pie” of the Internet market. As a result, such social networking solutions appeared: Microsoft (http://spaces.msn.com), Yahoo (http://360.yahoo.com), Google (http://Orkut.com) and AOL (http://hometown.aol.com). In many aspects they are quite similar. However there can be singled out (marked out) the unexampled convenient interface for photo album managing in Spaces.msn.com. Though, from the other side the photo album pages’ addresses in this system looks like technical garbage and it is extremely difficult to exchange them. Evidently, Yahoo took into account that Microsoft experience and added an option to synchronize the photo albums with Flickr.com, the one of most popular system of photo album conducting for today.
Thus, if our purpose is to find new contacts based on the similar interests, we can achieve that soon and easy by means of above mentioned communities. In a case we are looking for the business contacts, the general interests’ communities of social networking barely can help us here. Among business oriented communities LinkedIn.Com was the one of the first, which has gained popularity. This project is popular today too. By means of this project you can create the detailed personal profile and then ask yours previous and current supervisors, colleagues, who participate in this network, to post their recommendation letters to every stage of your seniority (working experience). It will definitely help to gain a “bonus points” in time of getting prestigious business contacts. Any community is valuable by its content (essence, substance) first of all. The more there are potentially demanded by you community’s members (participants), the more valuable this community for you. On this point the professional community Ecademy.com should be mentioned. However, as we have to pay for quality, the full membership in Ecademy.com cost money. There is also a developing community Ziggs.com which is worthy of our attention. The Ziggs.com developers have focused on the idea to let the system’s users to present themselves and find the necessary contacts as easy as they find the documents by means of the search engine. As a result, there are more than 3 million registered professionals from more than 90 thousands companies in Ziggs.com today.
Several words should be devoted to Plaxo.com. This is a specific project, which has developed from the electronic “business card” service and it counts about 5 million business cards at present moment. There is a desk (hand) program within the project that expands the features of your email client’s interface. For example, you can get the automatic notifications from your friends about different events.
In a conclusion I would say the following. Do not expect that if you post a profile (even the interesting one!) in one of network communities, you will find a lot of new friends. In the Internet you should be as active as in the real life for finding friends. The mentioned projects will help you to find congenial souls or professionally close people. However it is your task to get their interest.