Monster Networking Profile

We are adding this profile of Monster Networking to our Social Networking Site Guide

Website:

http://network.monster.com

Summary:

Monster Networking is a general-purpose professional networking community, offering highly customizable personal profile pages, private messaging, and public discussion boards. Monster’s Instant Messaging Functionality allows members to reach out to an extended network of contacts (e.g. members can reach out to the contacts of their contacts within the Monster Networking Community).

Membership:

Roughly 2 million people have logged into the Monster Networking service. Of those 2 million, approximately 60% are “active”, i.e., participating in message boards, participating in searches, etc. Our suspicion is that a much smaller percentage have actually paid for premium membership.

Launched:

December 8, 2003

Founder/CEO:

Jeff Taylor is the Founder of Monster. Jeff was a pioneer in online recruiting with the launch of The Monster Board in 1994. Monster was founded before the Internet was recognized as a commercial medium, and has since grown from just a handful of employees to a presence in 22 countries worldwide.

Simultaneous with the launch of Monster Networking in December 2003, Monster announced that Michael Schutzler, former President and CEO of Classmates.com, was joining Monster as senior vice president of consumer products. In this role, Schutzler was overseeing Monster Networking, as well as developing “value-added consumer products and services.” Mr. Schutzler left Monster as of August 6, 2004. His replacement as head of Monster Networking is Catherine Marshall, Vice President, Consumer Products. Marshall was previously Sr. Product Manager – Web-based Applications with Paymentech.

We interviewed both Schutzler and Marshall.

Corporate Overview:

Monster is a leading global online careers property. Founded in 1994 and headquartered in Maynard, Mass., Monster has 22 local language and content sites in 20 countries worldwide. The Monster global network consists of local content and language sites in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, Singapore, Hong Kong, France, Scotland, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Luxembourg, India, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Finland.

The Monster group of sites attracts 1.6 million job seekers daily. Over 40 million people cumulatively have put their resumes on Monster, and over half made their resumes (at some point) publicly searchable.

Fees:

Monster Networking offers a basic membership for free.

Registration for the basic membership does not require a customer to provide credit card information. Credit card information is only required if a user elects to upgrade his/her account standing from basic membership to VIP. Currently, Monster offers the VIP membership for $9.99/month with a one-time 30 days free trial. The fact that a credit card is required for many basic activities on Monster greatly reduces the amount of nonsense behavior (spam, etc.) that occurs vs. some other sites.

In addition to this membership fee, Monster earns revenues from targeted advertising to members. They also envision earning revenues from 3rd party partners (e.g., professional associations, alumni associations, etc. ) who want to create co-branded networking communities for their members.

Description:

According to Catherine Marshall, most of the people on Monster Networking are either actively or passively completing a job search. Monster has 90% awareness as a career-related brand, so Monster Networking benefits from that heritage. While job search is the primary focus of individuals using Monster Networking, other reasons include: make connections with other business professionals, exchange ideas on best practices, and share knowledge. These are users who are proactively and deliberately seeking to meet people that can be instrumental and influential in their career advancements. Marshall said, “Our users  think connecting with the right people is key to their advancement, and they are classic early adopters.”

Monster Networking’s basic membership offers limited functionality for free. Basic membership offers members: (1) a limited view of other members’ profiles; (2) the ability to create and save favorite searches to find other members based on skills, schools, company, occupation and keywords; (3) the ability to communicate through Monster Instant Messaging; (4) ability to receive a list of potential contacts Monster Networking thinks a member should meet, based on the member’s profile and previous searches; (5) ability to create a professional profile; (6) ability to respond to member introductions; (7) and the ability to view message board discussions. Anonymity of the user is protected as Monster Networking does not reveal a members’ last name.

Paid VIP membership entitles you to additional features such as: (1) complete view of a member’s profile, including current locations and employment information, (2) the ability to request introductions to other members, and (3) the ability to post to over 30 professional networking boards.

In order to establish initial contact with another member, a Monster Networking VIP member must send a Monster sponsored introduction called “Introduce Me”. Monster has positioned itself as the “host” of Monster Networking.

While last name is not displayed within a member’s profile, listing of search results, or contact list, you can search by last name. If you search for “Jeff Taylor”, your results will include a row for Jeff, but Jeff will only be identified as “Jeff T.”

What distinguishes Monster from the competition? First, the powerful brand and pre-existing database. Unlike many of the social network services, Monster comes to the table with formidable resources. Second, Monster Networking proactively suggests introductions. Based on the profile you entered and previous searches completed, Monster uses its matching technology to recommend introductions to other Monster Networking members. Monster Networking does not allow a member direct access to another member’s professional network.

The fact that everyone on Monster is reachable may scare off the most prominent businesspeople (e.g., a Bill Gates), who value the screening functionality that services such as LinkedIn offer. Without a screen, business celebrities may be deluged by people seeking jobs, funding, etc. However, the vast majority of heartland America users have no objection to being easily reachable. In addition, the fact that people’s last names are hidden also preserves the privacy of better-known individuals.

Monster Networking’s functionality is different from the traditional search that a recruiter can perform through Monster’s resume database in three ways. First, most of the people in the resume database are actively engaged in a job search, which is not necessarily the case for the members of Monster Networking. Second, on Monster Networking you can only access a professional business profile, not a full resume.

Third, Monster Networking prohibits use of its site for commercial recruitment, executive search, staffing, outsourced employment, or any other professional employment or recruitment activity. That said, realistically it will be hard for Monster to police this, assuming the system achieves a high level of usage.

An innovative feature that few other networking sites are incorporating is a feedback system, which serves to encourage peoples’ participation in the community. Members earn feedback points based on a variety of networking activities, including social feedback from others.

This feature allows a member to build his/her reputation within the community. Monster Networking also plans to incorporate perks and benefits to members who have achieved a substantial number of points in the system. Monster allows for entry of photos, and we asked Catherine Marshall if she was concerned about the site turning into a dating forum. She said that, “People compartmentalize their behavior. People do not want to date on Monster. Only a few silly photos have been uploaded, and they were screened out….People with higher feedback ratings are the ones who are being more responsive to inquiries on the discussion boards. A high ranking is a bigger driver of being contacted than simply a good photo.” On the dating sites, the most attractive people usually get very high traffic. She does not see this phenomenon on Monster Networking.

Monster is building its platform so it is compatible with other social network systems. The platform is built on Microsoft .NET, and they have built hooks for RSS, new version of Outlook, etc. According to Catherine Marshall, “We have built a platform scaleable and flexible to accommodate new technologies and product offerings.” One of the historic challenges for the job boards is that they have an episodic relationship with candidates; they only use a job board every 3-5 years when they are looking for a job. Monster Networking hopes to build a longer-term relationship with users.

Notes:

Monster’s model looks similar in many respects to that of Classmates.com, which Michael Schutzler used to run. The model was apparently quite successful there. However, Classmates had weak competition and a unique niche, compared to the wide array of roughly comparable sites which Monster faces.

Compared with Classmates, Monster is focused on the business market, and aspires to serve the lifelong career needs of its members. It is a truism that networking is even more important when you are not looking for a job.

We like the fact that all the discussion boards have RSS feeds; this is definitely the wave of the near future. Also, their threaded structure is excellent. It is very readable, and it appears that there is a healthy volume of posts. Our experience as users of Monster Networking has been mixed.

First, canceling your membership requires a phone call, instead of simply a click, which is not very user-friendly.

Second, the list of people that Monster suggested we meet was very uninteresting; we did not understand what would motivate us to connect with them.

Third, when we contacted different users with a short meaningful message, not a single person responded. On LinkedIn and similar services, a high percentage of requests succeed in going through because they come via trusted referrals. By contrast, one can expect that request going through Monster will have a lower success rate, because the pre-existing connection between members is so weak. One way that Monster can address this dilemma is to create branded communities (e.g., “Wharton alumni of Chicago”). You can expect a much higher success rate for requests that pass through such branded communities. LinkedIn offers a very successful similar service.

Recommendation:

Given Monster Networking’s corporate heritage, it has strong potential to become a leading social network brand. At the very least, we recommend listing yourself (which is free), so that you are accessible to people who may want to meet you.

Disclosures:

David Teten’s research company, Nitron Advisors, has been a customer of Monster’s.