Paying to pump up your profile

An article (subscription required) in Monday’s Wall Street Journal tells of the new virtual cottage industry that has grown up around helping people present themselves better in online dating sites.

Services like PersonalAdMakeOver.com, E-Cyrano.com, and PersonalsTrainer.com are getting anywhere from $60 to $120 for online profile make-overs. LookBetterOnline.com is growing like crazy offering professional portrait photography optimized for online presentation for a very affordable $129.

We’ve written before extensively about the parallels between online dating and online business networking. Trends on the business side seem to follow trends on the romance side by 6-12 months.

The first signs are already there. LookBetterOnline is doing more and more business headshots and recently entered a co-branding deal with Ryze. Free peer reviews of profiles have become very popular on the Using Ryze Effectively Network, and have even sparked a dedicated Profile Critique Club on Ecademy.

I caught some flak from some people when I wrote back in April that education is the next big thing in online social networking. People thought I was just being self-promotional. 😉 Now, I’ve got folks like Mitchell Levy, Flip Filipowski, and the execs at LinkedIn, Ecademy, and several other sites agreeing with me. This is the direction we’re headed.

If there’s any business value at all in using online social networking tools, then there’s going to be a need (and corresponding business opportunity) for training on the topic — everything from over-hauling your Ryze profile to making effective email introductions to referral netiquette on LinkedIn and Spoke, etc. There’s especially going to be an opportunity around training for particular business functions and career objectives: business development, marketing, sales, job search, etc.

As I was discussing with Mitchell Levy today, a mature marketplace ends up with not only the core products/services for sale, but a robust eco-system of complementary adjunct products and services around it, a la eBay, and now online dating. Mark my words, you’ll see the same thing on the business side of online networking maturing in the next 6-12 months, and I’ll be there.

Oops, I just gave away my business plan…