Review: Classmates.com

Classmates.com started out in 1995 with the simple premise of helping people reconnect with old school friends. Its phenomenal growth to over 35 million members is a testament to the power of the internet to connect people on a large scale and of their desire to do so. And while the stories coming out of Classmates.com have been predominantly about people hooking up with childhood best friends and sweethearts, it’s also an exceptional resource for business networking. Alumni organizations have always been a great networking resource because of the strong underlying personal ties. Also, Classmates.com has recently added workplace alumni groups and topical interest groups to their system, which increases its value as a business networking tool significantly. Expect to see this area grow rapidly.

Their years of experience hooking up schoolmates really pay off in the business networking arena. Classmates.com supports exceptionally robust profiles and bios, broken out by aspects of your life, e.g., life (general), work, college, school, and military service. They also offer a global search, allowing you to hook up with other people with similar interests or backgrounds, even who you may not have had any prior contact with. And their integration with e-mail is particularly impressive, in that they will automatically send you announcements of new members or newly updated profiles of your classmates and former co-workers.

The only limitation we really see with Classmates.com as a business networking resource is that the vast majority of users have not filled out their profiles very extensively – a common problem on all networking sites. Until that changes, it will be of limited usefulness in terms of meeting new people individually simply based on similar interests or background. However, the new interest groups provide that opportunity to an extent, and given the feature-richness of the platform and the growing importance of online networking, we expect that to change quickly. And it continues to be the primary (U.S.) resource for people to reconnect with old friends and business associates online.