Kudzu Introduces Business Networking

Kudzu logo

Cox’s Kudzu has introduced “business networking” on the site. This becomes another source of references/referrals for consumers and allows businesses to more directly “participate in the conversation” going on between consumers using Kudzu.

Kudzu was the first site to allow local businesses to respond to reviews. However, this is a more interesting and powerful tool for them and for consumers.

Many people “in the real world” ask trusted local vendors or contractors whom they would recommend to perform this or that job or service. It’s another source of “word of mouth” in addition to friends and family referrals. This is what Kudzu is trying to capture and duplicate online. If I trust business X I should be able to trust another business that business X has endorsed.

Referrals

Conceptually it’s similar to LinkedIn endorsements. MerchantCircle offers a much more limited version of this through reciprocal linking among businesses.

Kudzu is trying to make it clear that by including businesses on the list they are being endorsed and so, hopefully, businesses will be careful and selective rather than simply linking to one another.

A version of this emerged organically on Yelp, with businesses trading favorable reviews. But that was shut down by Yelp as gaming. The Yelp example indicates that a program like the one Kudzu is introducing would potentially be more widely in demand.

13 Responses to “Kudzu Introduces Business Networking”

  1. Glenn K. Garnes Says:

    Here’s another spin on social networking. ShopInUSCities.com has created a social networking community that focuses on putting local merchants in front of customers by allowing consumers who are a member of the community to earn points when they invite their friends to join, and to earn points when they shop with participating merchants.

    Points can be redeemed online for consumer electronics gear, personal care products, spa certificates, and other stuff people regularly buy. It’s like a community affinity group rebate program with all kinds of other resources online.

    There’s a video on the front page at http://www.shopinuscities.com that explains how the program works.

  2. brad Says:

    Greg, this is a really smart move for them in my opinion, and really a first step in the direction things should be moving. Social Networking has caught on so strongly, but really has failed to extend to the business arena for now. Not only will implementations like this take off (although possibly not right away), there should be full-fledged business social networks, where businesses can discuss issues/connect with other businesses in their category or their geography. As the next generation of business owners grows up, theres no doubt this will take off.

    http://local-research.blogspot.com/2008/08/business-networking-future-of-local.html

  3. Greg Sterling Says:

    But what’s interesting to me is that the networking happens in front of consumers and brings value to consumers (along the lines I discussed) if the SMBs take it seriously and are selective about who they endorse.

  4. Glenn K. Garnes Says:

    Another new business networking site is Perfectnetworker.com. This site appears to be similar to sites like Linked-in, Plaxo, etc., but it also allows people to meet face-to-face, and includes an online training course on how to generate more business through relationship building. It also includes monthly webinars where people learn how to generate more business for themselves through referral marketing.

    Right now this site is free so check it out. Put Glenn K. Garnes in the field for how you found us and the account will always be free for you.

  5. Greg Sterling Says:

    B2B networking is valuable of course. But as I’m arguing, businesses endorsing one another in front of consumers and on consumer review sites is quite interesting and potentially effective as a marketing tool for them.

  6. Glenn K. Garnes Says:

    Brad is right. I think the real issue is that social networking is in its infancy in terms of how business owners view it as a viable tool in their businesses. I participate in a number of referral groups that meet face-to-face on a weekly basis, and the biggest challenge in that environment is getting people to commit to attend regularly. With social networking you can use the filters online to identify businesses that are a good fit to network with and then meet only with the ones you wish to, instead of being stuck with whomever was the designated “whatever” in your face-to-face meeting group.

    We are hosting a seminar later this month on getting the most from social networking and we will be doing it as a webinar in September for the benefit of the entire Perfect Networker community. So, if you’re interested get a free profile at Perfect Networker and join us for that webinar in September.

    Thanks Brad for some very important observations concerning business social networking.

  7. diane Says:

    I think this is a great idea, please send more details so we can cover it in our business magazine section on http://www.in2town.co.uk

  8. Darren W Says:

    MerchantCircle does have a “Local Favorites” feature in addition to “My Network” feature you mentioned above. To date, our members have “favorited” tens of thousands of other merchants across the network. I agree that these merchant-to-merchant endorsements are a great resource for local consumers.

    Here’s an example (on the left under the map): http://www.merchantcircle.com/business/Sprucemtsurplus.Com.518-623-9986

  9. Greg Sterling Says:

    Thanks Darren

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    […] Kudzu program I blogged about this morning is another effort to give businesses more control or influence with […]

  11. Glenn K. Garnes Says:

    Diane,

    Were you referring to the social networking workshop we are hosting, or something else in this thread when you said send more information?

  12. CBS Affiliate Hammers Yelp — Again « Screenwerk Says:

    […] has also done something interesting with its business network, an alternative way for businesses to recommend and promote each […]

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    […] Cox’s Kudzu previously launched a feature — “business networking” — allowing local businesses to recommend other businesses. I wrote about that here. […]

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