If it works for romance, why not commerce? A handful of companies have begun using Friendster-style social networking to help businesses and professionals find a perfect match. We’re not talking romantic partners here, mind you, but access to previously unreachable customer leads, investors, business partners, job candidates, and employers. As in love, the best business links often come through people you know: The best hires are usually referrals, and the best way to get in the door for a sales call is through an introduction from a mutual friend. Until now, however, we’ve been limited to calling on people in our immediate circle. Social networking software offers the tantalizing opportunity to reach out not just to folks in your own little black book, but also to the friends and associates of all those people (as well as their friends and associates).
Looking for a new job? Post your profile, search your network for contacts, and ask those friends of friends of friends to help you find a match. Need an introduction to a venture capitalist? Get that colleague’s former college roommate to hook you up. It’s a tantalizing notion: Play this game right, and the dreaded cold call becomes obsolete.