Ask Dave Taylor: Tech and Business


Professional Online Networking: Act Globally or Locally?

I recently received an email message from Scott Ingram about his new professional networking Web site Network In Austin, focused on the Austin, Texas community. Since I'm a part of the LinkedIn community, focused on global networking connections, I thought it was quite interesting to contrast the two.

There are a number of questions that come up, however, as I think about local versus global networking and watch more networking sites come online every week. I also get invited to participate in lots of them, from the slick clone O'Reilly Connection to the rather amateurish Soflow, so I have a chance to really see how different people think about professional networking.

The first, and most obvious question is why are there so darn many sites? That is, if each site were visibly different from the others then I could understand why a group of developers would put the time in to build a new online networking site, but they're all basically the same. So what could possibly motivate people to build new ones when there are already existing networking sites with millions of users? And what would motivate users to join a new site when they're already devoted the time to build a profile on one of the busier old timer sites?

Another question, one that brings us back to the faux celebrity death match of LinkedIn versus NetworkInAustin, is should we network professionally at the global level, national level, or locally?

The answer, of course, is...