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The New Networker

Recently, a new breed of online networker has emerged: the ‘power networker’.  The power networker doesn’t tap into his network to sell his/her product line.  Rather, the power networker derives revenues from simply having amassed the collection of contacts.

Written Apr 23, 2008, read 1919 times since then.
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Social and professional networking has really taken the Internet by storm.  LinkedIn, the largest of the US professional networks, has more than 20 million professionals from around the world, representing 150 industries.  There are many smaller professional networks such as BizNik, FastPitch networking and Xing just to name a few.  Recruiters and corporate recruiters were the first ones to jump on the professional networking bandwagon.  Examine the top “connected” folks on these sites and you will still find an overwhelming number of them in the recruiting field.  And it is no wonder, before the days of business networking - the recruiters always carried the largest rolodexes.  Online networking created a new platform for recruiters to tap not only the folks in their network, but also the contacts in their network.  Private wealth managers also account for a healthy segment of this user base.  These folks spend a large portion of their day cultivating new clients and landing one produces significant fees.

Recently, a new breed of online networker has emerged – the ‘power networker’.  The power networker doesn’t tap into his network to sell his/her product line.  The power networker doesn’t tap into his/her network to find potential candidates.  The power networker in fact doesn’t sell anything to contacts in his/her network.  Rather, the power networker derives revenues from simply having amassed the collection of contacts. How does the power networker make money?

(a)    The old fashion Internet way – Ad revenue.  Pretty amazing that we treat ‘old fashion’ in Internet-speak as advertising revenue but so it goes.  For the power networker to earn advertising dollars he/she invites their network over to platform that provides them a share of the advertising revenues.  Xing has put together a great platform for doing just that – creating a true partnership between the social networking site and the creator of the network.  Facebook and LinkedIn both have group functionality and this resource has been leveraged by the power networker to collect users and then bring them over to another site that provides them revenue.  Given people affinity for joining social and professional networking sites joining yet another one is not a far stretch.  A similar approach (even easier) is to drive ones social network traffic to ones own site where advertising revenues could be earned.  [it should be noted that we found a number of power networker’s home pages are actually their social network profile].

(b)    The business developer.  This clearly is the favored approach and most likely the reason that professional networking exists – to help drive business.  For the power networker with rolodexes exceeding 10k professionals, the odds are the person that you are seeking is in their rolodex.  Requests are made to power networkers throughout the day requesting introductions and access to their rolodex.  The power networker is entitled to ask the requestor for a fee in exchange for making the introduction.  Though this functionality is not built into the traditional professional networks, these fee based transactions are occurring and are growing in frequency and size.

(c)    Referral Fees from 3rd parties.  As anyone who has purchased a lead list before could attest to – just obtaining a name is valuable.  Zoominfo, <st1:city><st1:place>Hoovers</st1:place></st1:city> and Spoke are just some of the firms that provide contact information (of course for a fee).  Well, the power networker also has valuable contact information and could easily leverage their network.  Of course the power networker needs to be careful how many times they tap their network for promotional purposes but it is a great source of revenue.  Many online publications derive lots of revenue from dedicated emails, sponsored promotions and newsletters.  The power networker has access to the same base of users and in many instances outweighs the smaller publications.

If you missed the boat on buying up 1800 telephone numbers, registering thousands of domain names, or setting up an offshore development company, chances are you are too late to become a power networker.  We are already seeing a significant amount of cross over in terms of contacts from power networker to power networker.  But, as new people are joining social and professional networks everyday it shouldn’t take long for anyone to amass enough of an online network to drive some real revenue.

Learn more about the author, Evan Sohn.

Comment on this article

  • Biz Growth Strategist, Speaker, Exec Coach 
Beaverton, Oregon 
Kathie Nelson
    Posted by Kathie Nelson, Beaverton, Oregon | Apr 25, 2008

    Evan, thanks for the fresh perspective. We don't have many out hear in the Portland, OR area talking about networking from a list building veiwpoint. At least they are not talking to me about it. My focus is helping individuals maximize and leverage their networks for business development, branding, expanded resources and value add for mutual benefit so I hear a lot of philosophies about what networking is and isn't. I try to keep people thinking big picture. Now you've got me thinking! That is a good thing.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Business Networking 
New York, New York 
Evan Sohn
    Posted by Evan Sohn, New York, New York | Apr 25, 2008

    Thanks Kathie. Its happening...