Friday, September 23, 2011

Start-Up Watch COD: Zerply gives people virtual personal storefronts online

One of the most exciting uses of the connected web is for professional networking – the opportunity to get connected to people with an interest in what you do. Linked In, of course, is the mac daddy of this space, connecting tens of millions. But other teams and start-up companies are also offering fascinating and distinct professional networking services that are worth a look.
I recently read about a global start-up called Zerply, and liked what I found. The concept behind Zerply, according to their site, is to connect people who really love what they do. The site enables anyone to create a customizable profile with more creative freedom than is available from a Linked In or a Facebook. Users can begin the process by linking to Facebook or Twitter, and then providing information about themselves, why they do what they do, what motivates them, and the like.
Perhaps it isn’t surprising that a company with employees spread around the globe has attracted users from every corner of humanity. The site appears to offer a special appeal to designers and entrepreneurs who leverage its freer and more graphical approach to express their individuality.
As you peruse profiles, you begin to see what makes this such a vibrant community. Rather than focusing so much on credentials and professional experience, the site seems to showcase capabilities and uniqueness front and center. Further, what you find is that there are great talents scattered everywhere, not just in “creative cities” and leading companies.
In just a quick look around I found people in a variety of different life situations who are clearly passionate about interests that might make them great creative and other resources for organizations. In my first nine profile views, I saw students,  teachers, web workers, programmers, and more from lands as diverse as Brazil, Britain, China, India, Italy and of course ‘Merica.
While as of this writing the feature set is still in development, one can already see the broader range of content that will eventually be part of the site. It’s well organized, graphical, and customizable.
Will it give Linked In a run for its money? I actually don’t see that as its objective. Rather, they seem to be saying that some of us at least are more than resume entries, and that some additional tools and capabilities can help people express who they are just as well as it showcases what they do and have done. More About.Me than Linked In, at least so far. I’ll be checking back often to see where they take this.

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