At The Urbane Way we spend our days using, perusing and pondering the world of social media. So when we learned about a new social network designed for business leaders in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community we wanted to hear more about this niche.
Created by Surface magazine founder Richard Klein, dot429 is as sophisticated and sleek as it is social media savvy. I logged in looking for something basic along the lines of LinkedIn and what I found was much more suited to an online magazine style.
We were pleased to have an opportunity to learn more about this endeavor, and all that helped bring it to light. The network is expected to reach 100,000 members nationally by the end of 2010.
UW: Tell me a little of the backstory behind creating dot429. What is the significance of the name of the network and what inspired it?
RK: I felt like there was something missing in the LGBT community. We were all interested in helping each other but there wasn’t any good national mechanism. I started talking with my friend Don Spradlin and together we designed a new type of networking community. I named it dot429 because 429 spells G-A-Y if you’re texting on an older phone, It’s actually an old code word for gay.
UW: How did you become interested in social networking?
RK: It’s hard to miss the power of social networking. I became interested years ago, seeing the power of sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. I realized that online social networking could provide the national component of dot429. But we wanted our offering to be more intimate and interesting, so we added lots of great content, including videos which introduce you to members, and we added live events as well.
UW: What made you feel that the the LGBT community and their straight allies were in need of a niche business network like this one?
RK: There’s always been an informal network, this just makes that network more powerful. Do we need to be more powerful? I think the 2008 election in California and the 2009 election in Maine proved that we’re still a long way from equality.
UW: I noticed in addition to the profiles, videos and events, you also feature articles on art, architecture and more. What specific site features were really important to include, in your mind?
RK: As I mentioned, we wanted to create an online experience that was more intimate and interesting than other sites. The content is extremely important. The videos let you get to know new people and the articles push you to think in new ways. We’ll be adding more features as we move forward as well.
UW: The site itself is very sleek and well-designed. How much did the design itself come into play when you initially began working on creating this network?
RK: We knew that our target audience would demand something sophisticated and intelligent. That was the design brief. We worked hard to ensure dot429 had a feel that makes our members comfortable and that we had content that intrigued them.
UW: I like the way dot249 focuses on both on and offline connections – both very important in business – was that one of the founding principles? Tell me a little of the impetus behind that concept in the creation of the site.
RK: We felt that there would be a backlash to online connection. People love the power of the Internet but they also crave real human contact. We also felt that our specific membership would be more excited about meeting each other than the membership of larger groups. We were right – the events are a lot of fun and we get a tremendously diverse crowd.
UW: When did you launch? What ways are you spreading the word about the site? How is it going so far – how many members are there currently?
RK: We began our events in January 2010 and launched the website in April. Our biggest marketing tool has been word of mouth. We hand-selected 500 founding members who were especially well-connected and asked them to help bring in thier networks. That’s worked great.
UW: What plans can we expect to see in the next few months on the site? Over the next few years?
RK: Right now we’re working on tools to help make our members more successful in their lives. I can’t give too many details right now but we’re focused on adding features to let members enrich their careers and lives. Over the next few years you’ll see the community really spread out – to smaller cities and towns in the US and to countries around the world.
UW: How large of a staff do you currently have running the site?
RK: We’re a group of around 15 people.
UW: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
RK: It is really gratifying to see the community come together at a dot429 event. We get an incredibly diverse crowd and find that everyone mixes really well. You may run into a movie director and an investment banker who are laughing with a small business owner and someone just out of college. And then you’ll see them figure out a way they can all help each other. It’s great.
From events to career opportunities to articles crafted by industry leaders, we at The Urbane Way were truly impressed by dot429 and think you will be too. See it for yourself or sign up for a profile at dot429.com.
Post by Stephanie Angelyn Casola, director of PR and Marketing at The Urbane Way and @Steph_Urbane on Twitter. At The Urbane Way, we specialize in social media marketing and PR and lifestyle branding. How can we help you?Related Posts
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