The future of networking

Indeed, it’s clear from the amount of websites providing facilities for social and business interaction, that networking online is a valid and effective way to build your business.  However, whilst ‘poking’ a friend may be part of a relationship building process, social networking for business has its shortfalls.  At the very least, the mere geographical spread of members often makes it difficult to build meaningful relationships for business purposes.
A new business networking website has just been launched that aims to bridge the gap   between face-to-face and online networking by offering the exclusivity and geographical proximity that is missing from networking across the worldwide web.  Word of Mouse provides the results driven, relationship-building facilities offered by local networking meetings through its unique e-circles – local, online referral networks – without the commitment of weekly meetings. 
Founders Harvey and Andy Lopata have been involved in business networking for nearly 10 years:  “We noticed increasingly that the majority of people who attended networking groups were reluctant to commit to weekly meetings,” explains Harvey.  “The main reason was not what happened within the network, nor was it the lack of potential for new business; it was simply that people were       unable, or unwilling, to commit to attending every week because the reality is that work is not that predictable.”
Seeing the increased popularity of internet networks and the opportunity to offer a more targeted local network online, the two networking experts developed this unique online alternative.
Flexibility
“Although people do want the opportunity to develop new referrals, particularly in their local area, they need flexibility – even if it is still within a structured networking environment,” continues Harvey.  “Word of Mouse still requires a degree of commitment if members want to maximise referral opportunities, but it offers the freedom of online networking and doesn’t demand hours of their time.”
The model for the site is based around membership of local e-circles.  Each business discipline enjoys exclusivity within their e-circle and over time has the chance to build up a trusted group of local business contacts.  Each e-circle is restricted to a maximum of thirty members, to enable everyone to get to know each other.  In fact, because fellow e-circle members are based    locally, the opportunity to meet is always an option and actively encouraged.  But when there isn’t the time to meet, members can just as easily ask for support and pass referrals to each other without leaving their desk.
“Most online networks are designed to help you build your contact database and raise your profile across a wide area”, comments Andy. “Referrals will come from a handful of the relationships you build through these networks, but it is a numbers game. With Word of Mouse, the network is kept small, targeted and local which enables members to meet offline if they wish to, thereby reinforcing the relationships that they have built within their group online.  After all, people will refer people they know, like and trust, and it is difficult to build such relationships purely online.”
As with any network, ultimately the success of Word of Mouse depends on members using the site proactively. But by giving its members a focal point for a local network, without the ‘bind’ of a regular meeting; it is certainly offering a viable new networking opportunity for people who simply can’t commit to meetings at the same time every week.
The e-circle model provides the convenience of local contacts at the click of a mouse.  This is a significant step forward for effective, efficient networking and word of mouth marketing and looks set to change the face of business networking online.
For more information about Word of Mouse and advice on networking, please visit <a href="http://www.wordofmousenetwork.com">www.wordofmousenetwork.com</a>.

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