Join an FT Forum for £1700
The Financial Times is getting on the professional networking bandwagon, launching a service at £1700 a go to belong to a secure forum. Mmm. There is no doubt that general business networks have been popular but also have some disfunctionality. Linkedin is probably the most famous of these and, clever as it is, for users its an unwieldy beast. Two layers down and I find my network is now over a million people. Thats not a network - its a population.
Also lots of business folk are connecting to like minded folk on social networking sites like facebook.
So we could conclude that specialist business networks could be a cool thing. I doubt that many will want to pay £1700 for the privelege though.
All the evidence from forums on websites is that they are populated by a small number of enthusiastic posters and trolls. Good networks also take a lot of maintenance. Its like hosting a party. The owner of the network will need to work hard to keep people interested and in this case, deliver £1700 of value. We see professional networks as being a fantastic opportunity and many publishers will be watching this intiative closely. Personally I'll eat my hat if there are enough people who will pay to make this a real business for Pearson.