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Niche networking creates islands of like-minded people

From a network that connects you to only your relatives to those who drink to stay happy, new niche networking sites are being created on the Web everyday.

ZAHID H. JAVALI  28th Aug 2011

he next generation of social networking promises to give people more tools to define their own smaller online communities in a way that mimics the real world. One thing that's lacking in the social tools we have right now is a context and clear boundaries; there is no separation of what you want to share and with whom. The problem here is that many social networking sites compel users to become part of a huge community, forcing users to choose 'friends' while disregarding any subtleties that may define the relationship. People want to create 'villages' but they're being forced into 'cities'. This is creating a rift in social interactions.

But this trend is changing. There is an increasing breed of entrepreneurs and web innovators who are taking niche social networking to unprecedented levels — creating islands of like-minded people. They believe that social networking isn't really social unless you can bridge your online network with your offline real-life activities and the interests that are meaningful to you. From a network that connects you to only your close relatives, to those who are friends of girth to those who drink to stay happy, there are newer niche networking sites taking a bow on the World Wide Web every other day. And like any new business, some will survive to tell the tale while others fall along the way. But one thing is clear; this is a new wave of social networking. Since they are all new, you can refine their approach and methodology with your feedback and play a role in defining the future of social networking. Here are five niche social networks that caught our attention. Savour, read and Google for more.

www.beyondgaming.net
Create an account, challenge a member and make money on a safe, secure global platform. This social network lets competitive gamers keep in touch and tap into the latest gaming industry buzz; it also gives them an opportunity to compete for cash. With free registration, BeyondGaming.net is your best bet if you want to pit yourself against gamers around the world. If you want to play for hard cash in an online tournament, deposits can be made to your account through PayPal or a credit card.

www.tripping.com
Tripping allows you to connect safely with locals the world over, who are open to meeting and helping each other. These locals will then introduce you to their town, culture, lives and friends. The site aims to make travel affordable and accessible to everyone, everywhere. It's about creating an entirely new way for travellers to see and experience the world. Although similar to CouchSurfing.com, Tripping offers more safety features, such as the emergency hotline and anonymous ratings, which is laudable.

www.invested.in
This site has come about 'because banking executives just don't get it'. Invested.in is an interactive platform that allows users to leverage their social capital to raise financial capital. In simpler words, it is a platform built to help people raise money by making use of their existing social networks. This site is heavily connected to every aspect of your online social life, and utilises Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and more. Its sole purpose is to help you reach your fund-raising goals. Check it out and stay invested.

www.howsmyacting.com
This is a nifty video-sharing social network for actors and wannabes, who want to share their acting skills and make a few friends along the way. An extremely useful site, it allows you to upload your monologue performances, theatrical acts, acting auditions, TV/film demo reels, voice-over videos and just about anything that showcases your performance art capabilities. You can even build an actors' Facebook network; socialise with each other; give each other advice, support and learn from each other.

www.nettuned.com
Collaborate and share music with the world at large with this site's free musician profile. Sign up as a musician, band, sound engineer or producer and post local classifieds (with an attached audio clip) to make your presence felt in your selected community. The site also caters to fans, agents and venues to ease the burden of forming a band, finding someone to jam with or finding a band to play at your gig.

 
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