Mansueto Digital, the online division of Inc. and Fast Company magazines last week announced the launch of IncBizNet (http://www.incbiznet.com/), an online business networking community and user-generated company database created specifically for private organizations. Mansueto has designed IncBizNet to become a directory of U.S.-based private businesses and it will rely on the listed companies to add and update their information.
To motivate these businesses to participate, IncBizNet is offering a collection of free tools, such as a press release newswire, company blogging software, local community groups for entrepreneurs and a directory that will enable the businesses to market their products and services.
The network already contains information from companies included in this year's Inc. 5,000. Mansueto's goal is to have one million participating companies. Those companies can create detailed profiles of their businesses, with marketing materials, press releases, blogs and videos--all in a multi-media directory. IncBizNet and members will also be able to create moderated groups based on industry, location or topic. There are also opportunities for advertisers--they can create sponsored groups to engage private companies in discussions that will help meet their marketing needs.
Mansueto also noted that IncBizNet will help Mansueto's editorial efforts by helping its journalists uncover new companies to feature within its properties (magazines, websites and events).
This new venture is a cross between social networking sites (like LinkedIn) and user-generated directory sites (such as Spoke Software's business database), effectively bringing the virtues of Web 2.0 technology together. It's certainly an interesting idea to bring two of the most popular functions on the web today together in a new program. Mansueto notes how its journalists will benefit from this resource. But, of course, the success of such a model is entirely dependent on user participation. These businesses must be willing to share and it's not a guarantee that they will do just that. As long as Mansueto can demonstrate the value of IncBizNet to businesses, it will have a fighting chance.