The New Networking
Online networking is the biggest thing on the Internet today. Essentially, it’s the digital equivalent of conversations once held around the office water cooler, with exponentially greater reach. Social and professional
media allow like-minded individuals who would not have otherwise had a
chance to connect to come together. Interested in hamsters? There’s a website
for you. Unicycles? Funny hats? There’s a website for those as well. Hamsters
riding unicycles while wearing funny hats? Willing to bet there’s a site for that,
too, along with people who want to talk about it.
Now these networks have grown to serve more business-oriented purposes,
and today there are countless websites dedicated to everything from investment
and asset management to entrepreneurship and financing. And you’re just as
likely to see online conversations revolve around companies and products in
addition to hot topics and deal making. As a result, social media has emerged as
a significant networking tool and driver of new business…for those who use it
correctly and effectively.
Thousands of businesspeople have signed on to networks to connect with colleagues, and several companies across a variety of industries have long embraced
social media as a marketing tool. Commercial real estate has actually not been a
late entrant into this realm; in fact, a
handful of industry-specific “web communities” have been launched in
recent months (see sidebar).
Because our industry has long
been accused of being behind the
times when it comes to technology,
Real Estate Forum decided to conduct a survey to gauge how those in
commercial real estate use the
Internet and social media, and to
The results—not to mention the
participation level—were surprising
(okay, so maybe we underestimated
you guys) and most of the comments
provided valuable insight into how
our business approaches these types
of innovations today. Most of those
who took part in the survey use social
and professional networking sites, and
a good amount see the current and
future value in them when it comes to
professional applications. And while
the bulk of those polled are wary of
how networking sites could help their
business, it was mainly because they
feel that either most of these media
are still relatively new, too fragmented
and not specific to general interest
groups, or because they don’t yet
know how to fully utilize them.
Select findings from the poll
appear on the following pages.
See the full survey results in
our expanded online section.
Are professional and
social media just a
passing technological fad,
or could they actually
have useful business
applications? Our survey
attempts to answer
A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO ONLINE NETWORKING
General Social/Professional Sites
Twitter ( www.twitter.com) The most widely used social networking platform, this
micro-blogging service allows users to post updates immediately. Entries, called “tweets,”
are 140-character posts submitted via web form, text message or instant message.
Facebook ( www.facebook.com) and MySpace ( www.myspace.com) Mainly social
sites that are useful for staying in touch with friends or nurturing relationships with clients
and colleagues. Facebook has the edge over MySpace in terms of popularity among adults.
LinkedIn ( www.linkedin.com) A business-oriented, professional networking site that
allows members to create business contacts, search for jobs and find potential clients.
Its 42 million-plus members are in 200 countries and represent 170 industries, including
all Fortune 500 companies.
Digg ( www.digg.com), Reddit ( www.reddit.com), Delicious ( www.delicious.com),
StumbleUpon ( www.stumbleupon.com) User-driven news aggregators and bookmarking sites. Users submit content or links to other websites or news stories, other
users vote on them. Based on popularity, the posts get pushed up or down the home
page to become more or less prominent.
CREOpoint ( www.creopoint.com) An online professional network exclusively for the
commercial real estate industry. Users can access industry news, network within the
professional community, share white papers and best practices, take part in forums,
check out event calendars and videos and access career development opportunities.
The Real Corner ( www.realcorner.com) A community for commercial real estate
professionals to network, collaborate, share best practices and develop professional
relationships. Users can submit questions or comments in forums and receive feedback
from other members; share thoughts or articles; post blogs; and join or create specific
interest groups within the sector.