Getting to know people
The simple structure of personal pages on Ryze makes it easy to get to know quite a bit about people who interest or attract you. You can use the search and link functions to identify candidates for connection and then view their pages to check them out. It feels a lot like shopping - for interesting people. I guess you could say that, in this way, Ryze is a kind of mall or bazaar. It's fun. You now have a warm and fuzzy enough feeling about an interesting person to venture a contact.
This is key. Most of us don't like this part in real life - meeting strangers. Here, we are way ahead of the game because we know a lot about these "strangers" before we attempt to make contact - we've picked out the ones who look most promising. We can ask them about something we saw on their page. We can point out our common interests, background, industry, career or personal experiences. If that weren't enough, there's one more great feature. Each personal page has a guestbook and there is a culture that supports signing a person's guestbook as an initial overture. On Ryze, it is OK in fact encouraged to sign a complete stranger's guestbook. And, usually, the stranger will return the favor and check your personal page out and write some kind of reply. You are off and running now if the chemistry goes well with the guestbook exchange.
Building Trust and Comfort
As you can see, it's pretty easy and comfy getting these relationships started. There are a couple neat mechanisms for this next phase. On Ryze, you don't list your phone or email address in the real world on your page. However, you can choose to share this information with someone when you feel comfortable doing so or think it would be more convenient this way. It's an act of trust to do so. You are trusting your new "friend" to use your contact information responsibly. At some point you can declare a person to be a "friend" and add them to your friends list. They may or may not choose to put you on their friends list - these are personal decisions.
Exchanging Knowledge, Contacts and Support
Since Ryze is a self-declared business networking environment, people expect to network. And that means more than just building a network. Our common understanding and certainly Ryze's definition of networking also implies helping and sharing with each other. It's commonplace for people to offer to help you and to favorably look upon requests for help. This would be true in a "real world" networking situation, though, what's special here? There's a prominent place on each personal page for you to put what you HAVE to offer and what you WANT. Let's make it explicit. This is modifiable so you can change these depending on what you have and want right now. You can effortlessly search for people who have what you want or want what you have.
I'm currently a paying member of Ryze. This is the first of the new breed of online communities that I've tried out with some degree of commitment. I've just touched on some of the highlights of the Ryze environment - there's lots more.
If I've peaked your interest about Ryze, though, do come by my personal page and say hi in my guestbook!