Social networks help to meet people and maintain relationships, and conferencing tools collaborate with those contacts. The recently launched 5050Biz takes those related islands and mashes them back into a Pangea of communication. By reducing the mental and monetary overhead of running multiple services, 5050Biz could save you money and improve your productivity.
I think that getting people involved in a new social network could be 5050Biz's biggest hurdle. I hate trying keep a profile current in unrelated networks. But the non-traditional features could displace--or supplement--your current social networks.
In addition to basic contact and profile management, 5050Biz uses its social network as a hub to find mentors, peers, and workers. You could browse for advice on your industry and connect with those experts. You can even post employment ads to try to find contract or full-time help.
And once you make those contacts, communications tools further the relationships. You can collaborate on projects within your office, with people from the service, or both; video conferencing, chat-room, message-board, and other tools expand the service beyond a LinkedIn me-too.
5050Biz offers several price points. The free version lets individuals post profiles and browse most of the content, but it'll cost $24.95/month to post messages. At $10 (or less) per user each month, rates include videoconferencing, text chat, and all other features. (Add more users to get an overall discount.)
I'm wary of everything-to-everyone solutions that try to do too much, but these networking and communication categories already overlap. Give 5050Biz a try if these services could help your business.
Zack Stern is building a new business from San Francisco, where he frequently contributes to PC World.