5 Web-Based Tools That Support Real World Networking

Sure, social media networks have made the world flat. We’re all connected, through the web and our mobile phones. It’s easy to meet someone on the other side of the globe, thanks to sites like Facebook. But every once in a while we have to leave our laptops at home and meet people face to face. If you’re thinking of building up your brand online, shifting some of the success you see on the web into the tangible world can take your brand or personal presence to the next level. Ironically enough, there are several web services that can help you with your transition into the physical realm of reality. See below for a few of our favorites:

1. Enthusem

Enthusem creates personalized greeting cards that can be sent to your new acquantainces you’ve met through networking on social media sites. Someone follow you on Twitter? Send a physical greeting card instead of an auto-direct message. It will come across as a much nicer way to further introduce yourself, and it will be memorable to say the least. And that’s the point, right? Ensuring that you’re not lost in a sea of virtual profiles.

This personalized greeting card service plugs into several social networking services, and offers contact management services, mailing services, and reporting so you can keep track of who has been sent what greeting. As Enthusem grows, deeper integration with more social networking tools will make much of this management an easier task.

While Enthusem is still a marketing tool at its core, it’s a unique and interesting way in which you can build your brand and continuously network with those you’ve already connected with online. Carry the conversation over to the real world with personalized greeting cards, and you’re likely to get the attention you paid for.

2. Meetup

This web-based event planning tool enables you to plan the party you’ll be throwing in order to carry over your online networking to real world networking. Meetup ties in with a number of other social networking sites, making it easy to invite friends and spread the word regarding your particular event.

Ideal for events such as tweetups, Meetup offers an array of networking tools so that each person invited can learn more information about the others that will be in attendance. It’s important to be able to have a centralized place in which you can learn about others that will be at an event, because this ignites conversation. You’re all at the event for a common interest in the first place, so preparing for the in-person meeting is the natural next step.

3. beamME

beamMe is a service that provides a mechanism to move web content to your mobile device. With a widget that site publishers can add to their site, beamMe provides a way to shift content to a mobile format which can be taken anywhere and shared accordingly. How can this help you in your direct networking agenda for the real world?

You’ve got a wealth of information on your mobile, which can be quite handy during an in-person meeting. Are you giving a blogger a demo, but your laptop is dead? Are you at a networking cocktail and don’t even have your laptop with you? Share web information, including your own contact info, directly from your phone.

Granted, most mobile devices have much improved mobile web browsing. But searching for the particular piece of media in the middle of a conversation can put a damper on the whole in-person experience. having a centralized repository of the media you need, along with the ability to share this information directly with other mobile users through beamME’s mobile application, creates a circular experience that joins the web with the real world, via the mobile phone.

4. SnapDat

SnapDat also allows you to share information with others through mobile phones, but this application is more specific to business networking. Making your business card completely digital means you can bypass the card design and printing, and share it directly with others. Through its iPhone application, SnapDat enables you to send an actual digital replica of your business card to another iPhone user.

Both sender and recipient will need to have the SnapDat iPhone application to utilize its full feature set, which includes an easy-to-use browsing mechanism for viewing all the digital business cards you’ve received. The contact information found on these sent business cards is integrated with your contacts on your iPhone address book. A more recent updates also lets you include URLs on your digital business card, so that recipients can click the link in order to be automatically redirected to the website of your choice.

As I mentioned above, the circular cohesiveness of connecting the web and the real world through the use of a mobile device is a very easy and tangible way in which to further your personal networking capabilities. Mobile devices are very prevalent and are becoming increasingly useful for business and entertainment everyday. Why not take advantage of such a conduit for combining your real and virtual networking?

5. RealGifts

This Facebook application has a very interesting model that we’re likely to see expanded beyond Facebook and into mainstream media and retail. RealGifts provides a way for you to send actual gifts to friends, without having to know their address. The application acts as the all-knowing middle man, as it can access a friend’s address through Facebook in order to protect everyone’s privacy. The recipient will receive a real gift as well as a virtual gift on Facebook.

For networking purposes, RealGifts’ benefits are along the same lines as Enthusem’s. Marketing within the RealGifts app is trickier, as you can only send gifts to those you’ve befriended mutually on Facebook. But the end result is the same–you’ve become very personable and quite memorable. More often than not, you’ll win some cool points for making the effort to buy and send a real gift.

The interesting aspect of applications such as RealGifts is the fact that the impact on the virtual goods marketplace could be vast, once user adoption is at a level that reflects comfort from senders and recepients. Additionally, the marketing potential for both retail brands and the owners of these applications can be great. for Facebook, being the platform upon which such applications are created and utilized means that it has a potential opportunity to collect a great deal of data on spending behavior. This data can also be kept private but can become quite useful for recommendations and market research.