There is no question that social networking sites have begun to reshape the business landscape. What started out as a way for like-minded folks to meet and former colleagues and classmates to reconnect has morphed into a tech phenomenon. The next step? Knowledge networking, says Robyn Ward, vice president for business development at Docstoc (www.docstoc.com), a social networking site for professionals looking to create, upload, and share documents.
For entrepreneurs and small businesses, the draw of sites such as Scribd and Docstoc is obvious. Like LinkedIn and Twitter, where users come together to make business connections and share information, knowledge networking sites serve a similar function—with additional benefits. For one, the sites provide a way for entrepreneurs to generate business leads by sharing self-created documents; they also provide opportunities for self-publishers to reach a wider audience.
At Docstoc, entrepreneurs can create documents in a variety of formats, generate tags, develop search engine optimization strategies, and provide fluid connections between their documents, blogs, and “tweets” (Twitter posts). For documents uploaded as private, Docstoc lets users see who has viewed, downloaded, and e-mailed files.
Scribd lets users create and join groups to share interests; the site boasts 50 million readers every month and 50,000 new writings and documents uploaded daily, from heavyweights such as President Obama, publishing house Simon & Schuster, and The New York Times. Additionally, Scribd’s iPaper is a document viewer that converts most files uploaded into a single format. Both sites also let users embed documents on their own Websites, and both provide mobile solutions.
Ease of Use: Docstoc one-click, Docstoc sync
Who It’s For: entrepreneurs, small businesses, academics (think LinkedIn for document sharing)
Ease of Use: iPaper viewer, bulk uploader
Who It’s For: creative types, entrepreneurs
Editor’s Pick: Docstoc. The profile page alone is a boon for entrepreneurs.