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Social Networking Site to Facilitate Offline Interaction


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May 10, 2005

Social Networking Site to Facilitate Offline Interaction

Olga Kharif

We have all heard of social networking, the online phenomenon where people post their photos, likes and dislikes onto Web sites like Friendster.com and LinkedIn.com to connect with people with similar interests. I must say I’ve been a bit resentful about using those: Why do I need to make friends online? I meet plenty of people in the real world – in the bookstore, at parties, etc. In the offline world, at least I know what they look like, whereas, online, it’s a mystery.

That’s why I sat up alertly when I heard about Common.net, a social networking site intended to help people meet in the offline world.

Allow me to explain. Say, you are getting ready to go to a trade show. You log onto Common.net, and download your entire address book onto the site (the contacts will only be accessible to you). Then, you answer questions about the location of your home town, clubs you belong to, former employers, fraternities, etc. The set-up takes 10 minutes.

When you get to the trade show, you make a beeline for a person you know nothing about except for what their name tag says. You both smile at each other, pull out your Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) or cell phones, and log into your own Common.net accounts. Then, you enter each other’s e-mail accounts into the site’s system. Within seconds, you’ll both receive a summary, telling you exactly what you have in common with one another. Perhaps you both know the same person. Perhaps you went to the same high school. Or, maybe, you both love playing tennis.

How about that for a conversation starter? I mean, it can take years for me to find out that someone I know has a similar hobby, or is from my home town.

Granted, for this to work, lots of people have to belong to Common.net (today, it has about 25,000 users). It remains to be seen whether Common.net can pull this off: The site is self-funded and looking for venture capitalists, says CEO Craig Calle.

But I think the main idea – of using social networking for offline networking – is a goldmine. I wouldn’t be surprised if large social networking sites like LinkedIn.com, catering to professionals, pick it up and run with it.

03:29 PM

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another way to make the physical connection is to use Pleasurecards (see www.pleasurecards.com) - a new business which links an online profile to a physcial card. As they recently noted on Springwise "Burgeoning social software meets the physical world: PleasureCards are an interesting way to fill the gap between offline encounters and continuing the conversation online: if we were Friendster, or Orkut, or Flickr, or Match.com we would study and/or partner with this company straight away." (http://www.springwise.com/newbusinessideas/pleasureCards.htm)

Posted by: saul klein at May 10, 2005 05:54 PM

Would I really meet someone, and then spend the next 3 minutes trying to log onto my account to find out what's common between us? That 3 minute delay seems pretty deadly to me.

Posted by: Ed Chi at May 10, 2005 06:48 PM

This is a great idea! I often feel like I'm wasting so much time at tradeshows looking for the poeple that I should be networking with. Is Common.Net the first to do this? An application I saw at a trade show recently was similar to Common.Net but the GUI blew me away. That was introNetworks- http://www.intronetworks.com

Are there anymore apps like this out there or is this a newly emerging market?

Posted by: SoCalNetter at May 11, 2005 12:21 PM

As Head of Communications at the interactive academic network http://www.academici.ac I can only say that it works the opposite way around. You prepare for events (fairs, conferences) from within your network. You build a network to go to an event.

Klaas Brumann

Posted by: Klaas Brumann at June 8, 2005 06:23 PM

here's a killer application for pre and post event matching, collaboration and sharing. It has been used at more than 50 events. A product overview can be found here http://www.leveragesoftware.com/products/prod_even.html . it's simple to use and gain value from.

Posted by: mikew at July 18, 2005 06:54 PM


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