Saturday, April 26, 2008

SOSIUS - online networking tool for business

I might, at last, have found the app that will enable me to establish a working, user-friendly, social network for East Midlands' Speakers Club.

I found out about Sosius from scanning my RSS feed for Gulf News. Fancy that. I had to read something published in the Middle East to get the lead.

It does everything that I had hoped Google Sites would do, but incomparably more efficiently. The only hitch is that I have to persuade other people to sign up in order to use it.

East Midlands' Speakers' Club hopes to charter into full Toastmaster International status in July. A gradually increasing number of us meet on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month to support each other in our bids to become more confident and interesting public speakers. We shall be able to set up our own website under the auspices of Toastmasters only once we are chartered. Meanwhile, we have a Facebook group which I use to remind people about meetings and to create more awareness of the club.

East Midland Speakers came into being as a result of my erstwhile colleague, John Cox, wanting to join Toastmasters himself but being aghast at finding that the nearest clubs were either in Birmingham or Leeds. That's a lot of travelling for a quasi-social event.

We are social, despite following precise guidelines for meetings, speeches and time-keeping and Toastmaster International programmes of Competent Communicator and Leadership. It's definitely a new group of friends.

But back to Sosius. The sign-up process is pretty painless, and membership is free providing you use no more than 200Mb of online storage. You can collaborate with an unlimited number of other users.

The dashboard is an instant guide to what you can do, with inbuilt calendar, content and template creation tools (eg blogs, web pages, documents) email, site customisation, workflow management and so forth. You can even use SpinVox which converts your spoken words into text entries.

It has also introduced me to XFN and FOAF which I'm going to have to look into more thoroughly, since these are technologies which will enable you to create your own friends' network from any pages which link to people you know.

An East Midlands Speakers Club on Sosius would enable us to share information, log our progress through TI programmes, advertise meetings - generally creating a community.

Sosius really does seem to offer the facilities for innovative groups with online members to collaborate and work together, but oh my, most people I know don't live online like I do - yet. And many still don't find these online services sufficiently intuitive.

And oh the eyebrows that rise high when I mention using Facebook for networking! Get real. Social networking apps are powerful.