Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Can Your Business Come Out And Play?

Today we officially went live with our initial version of location-based networking for businesses using the popular Foursquare API. To my knowledge, Fast Pitch! is the first online business network in the world to integrate a geo-location feature into its platform - allowing professionals the ability to showcase their whereabouts to others within their professional network. Being able to update and display location statuses on the Fast Pitch! profile creates more opportunity for our members to get out from behind their computers and meet-up offline...

As most of you know, I've discussed the idea of location-based networking within a business context as a great way to extend your online network into the 'real' world. However until very recently, the idea of displaying ones location has been limited to early adopters. Many of us still think that the idea of showing our location to the world to be a little 'too' transparent.

However, in recent weeks the geo-location space has really begun to heat up as millions of people have started using GPS technology on their smart phones to reveal to their friends where they are at any moment in time. It's become so popular that Foursquare recently reported that they are now receiving at least one location status update every second. In other words, location has offically become the next extension to Facebook status updates and micro-blogging on Twitter. It truly localizes everything you do.

For now, the Fast Pitch! entrance into this space is fairly simple. For those of you who are already using Foursquare as your location based network, we'll allow you to sync your account to Fast Pitch! - which will reveal your recent 'check-ins' on your profile viewable by members of your professional network. For those of you who are not already Foursquare users, you'll need to create a Foursquare account and download the application to your smart phone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry). All of this takes less than 5 minutes if you know what you're doing.

For many of you, location based networking using your mobile phone will allow you to encourage members of your network to want to meet with you offline when they are nearby. Additionally, by checking into the venues you attend and having them post to your Fast Pitch! profile you'll essentially be making a recommendation about that venue. This is a simple, yet extremely powerful way to create awareness about places you visit and events you attend. In fact, if you're business is a venue, it's imperative that you add your location to Foursquare... now!

For those of you who do not already have a Foursquare account (which is probably most at this point), Setting up an account is simple. After syncing the two accounts, all of your future 'check-ins' will be automatically submitted from Foursquare to your Fast Pitch! profile. In other words, "Set it and forget it!"

For those of you not quite ready to dive into this new technology... it's understandable. But, keep an eye on what we're doing... and be careful not get too far behind the curve. We will undoubedtly continue to add new functionality around this exciting feature in the coming months as more Fast Pitch! members continue to sync up their accounts. As more and more of our members begin using this feature, our ability to create some powerful mash-ups using Fast Pitch! data will bring an entirely new dimension to your networking experience.

Lastly, don't let the 'gaming' element of Foursquare fool you. Foursquare is a serious player in the world of social media with huge upside for business. Combined with data provided by Fast Pitch! the technology has unlimited potential to help many of you get connected in a more proactive manner. Imagine your phone alerting you to a potential business opportunity sitting right next to you at the movie theater... and you reviewing their profile and educating yourself about that person and their business... prior to engaging in conversation. Pretty powerful stuff. We're not that far off.

So, it's no longer a question of whether the world is ready for location based networking, but rather... Are you ready to play?



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