Thursday, December 21, 2006

Meaningful Connections

Recently we added the ability for people to create their own network on Fast Pitch. You can now make introductions directly through the system and track who accepts an invitation to join your network. We can already see the positive effects the functionality is having for our users as thousands of connections were made within the first 24 hours of going live.

The ability to connect online is obviously nothing new, as many 'social networking' websites have used this feature to quickly grow their user base by connecting people both socially and professionally. Ironically enough, we at Fast Pitch, have been debating for some time how best to use the concept within our own framework. After all, a large part of Fast Pitch is, and always has been about networking. So, why the debate?

Two reasons:

For starters, as most of you know, Fast Pitch is about so much more than social networking, and we’ve been careful to distance our brand from being described as such. As our business description reads, we are a one-stop shop for business marketing and networking. This includes the ability for people to not only network, but to market their BUSINESS online using all of the features we offer including advertising on our network, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing), the ability to post press releases (we now also offer a distribution service, designed to showcase your press to the public and syndicate it out to thousands of search engines), the ability to post and manage your own business events, and much more.

In short, our over-arching goal is to provide you with a cost-effective way to drive business to your doorstep. Whether that’s connecting with others online, in-person, through another networking organization, through search engines, through advertising on our site... we want to be the first place you turn every morning when you ask yourself “What can I do to help grow my business today?”

Secondly, we’ve watched as many of the so-called professional ‘networks’ have become nothing more than virtual playgrounds of people making connections for the sake of connecting. Since when did having a profile on the same website become THE reason to connect? And what good does it do me to know that I have 4,234,345 people within 3 degrees of me? Why should I connect with Joe Smith of Orlando, FL just because we both went to the University of Florida? And why would I ever make a recommendation on his behalf just because he knows someone who knows someone who knows me? Where’s the quality?

As has been mentioned before, Fast Pitch is based on the premise that ‘what you do is often more important than who you know’. It's what we like to call 'Intelligent Networking'. Nowhere is this premise more important than in the world of online social networking. Here’s what we mean:

Determine which types of companies are most likely to do business with you, and spend 90% of your efforts trying to connect DIRECTLY with those companies.

As an example, suppose I am a web designer that has had success selling my services within a 50-mile radius to primarily attorneys, accountants, and real estate agents. It would make sense that I should spend most of my time targeting these types of businesses, right?

Now consider that I now have the ability to log-in to Fast Pitch and locate people within these types of businesses that have actually stated that they plan to purchase web design over the next 6 months. Can you think of a better reason to connect?

As you may already know, what makes the Fast Pitch Profile unique is that it focuses almost entirely on characteristics about your company (who you’re ideal customer and partners are, what you are looking to buy, your company size, location, etc…). By highlighting this information, we give our users the power to quickly make determinations about who they should be contacting. In fact, we take it a step further and make recommendations about who should contact whom making it that much easier to locate new opportunities and make QUALITY contacts.

So now when I receive that invitation to connect with Joe Smith in Orlando, I’ll have a better understanding about why I should consider connecting to Joe by taking a moment to review information about his business on his Fast Pitch Profile. I can learn more about what his company does, read his press, why he thinks his company is better than the competition and more... making him a more qualified contact.

Enjoy the new feature and remember to avoid making meaningless connections.

Good Luck!



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