Networking sites help entrepreneurs

Unemployment rates are still on the rise and soon-to-be college graduates are receiving more notifications of hiring freezes than job offers.

To forget about the troubles of the world, some students have buried themselves into Twitter and starting their own businesses.

Dante Russell, 22, a junior business administration student at Florida State University, is the founder of On-the-Go Fades, a men’s grooming company that allows its clients to make appointments through email and social networking sites with personal barbers who come to them.

“After seeing how bleak the job market was looking last semester, I decided that I needed to take matters into my own hands…literally,” Russell said. “My company has a niche; guys like to look good and they want it done fast. On-the-Go offers convenience.”

However, the eighth-month old company fell into despair when Russell could not find the start-up money he was looking for.

Russell sought advice from the Chamber of Commerce and they told him to check out, a social network for entrepreneurs.

“I checked it out and thought it was cool that I was about to create my own profile and get advice from other entrepreneurs,” he said.  “It’s like the Facebook for business owners.”

There are a number of social resources to help connect with others and get businesses off the ground.

PartnerUp is a social network for entrepreneurs who are searching for people and resources for business opportunities. The Cofoundr network is made up of idea makers, entrepreneurs, programmers, web designers, investors, freelancers and executives.  The primary purpose of joining this network is to start a new web venture.  Unlike some social networks, Cofoundr is a strictly private network, which means that browsers can’t view member profiles before they register for an account.

The Funded is an online community of entrepreneurs who research, rate and review funding sources.  Entrepreneurs can view and share terms sheets to assist each other in finding good investors, as well as discuss the inner workings of operating a business.  General benefits of this site include viewing facts, reviews and commentary on funding resources, and accessing “Really Simple Syndication” feeds of the most recent public comments by members.

Students have even found LinkedIn to be a one-stop shop for finding jobs, working with other business-minded individuals or building a company.

“For anyone trying to start a business now, don’t wait for a bailout,” Russell said. “It’s time we start using these social networks not only as photo galleries, but ways to redefine jobs and companies in America.”

And that’s the business.