In professional services, you are only ever as good as your last engagement. Which is to say, if you have no one to vouch for the quality of your work, then you’ll probably have a hard time finding more.
Traditionally, the best way to sell to future prospects was by shopping around the recommendations of previous employers. There’s nothing wrong with that strategy, but clients may be skeptical because you control who is providing testimonials, not people they already know and trust.
GigPark means to bring word-of-mouth recommendations to the web, using a social network model. You can browse existing recommendations just by visiting the site, but the innovative twist offered by GigPark comes into play when you register an account with the site.
Once you have a profile, you can mine your existing social networks and email address books to see if any of your friends are already using GigPark. The site is relatively new, so trawling my Facebook, Hotmail, and Twitter contacts actually didn’t result in any hits.
That said, the folks behind the site are trying to promote growth. You can invite your friends from the site using their emails, and if you register and make three recommendations before the end of the month, you’re automatically entered into a draw to win an iPhone 3G.
Whether or not you have any friends, you can browse the community recommendations. The listings are also searchable, so that you can find exactly what you’re looking for. You can even recommend individual items, like blog posts. Using the “Ask” link, you can also seek out specific professionals or services, and broadcast those to your Facebook, email, etc. contacts from GigPark.
If you’re a service provider, it’s a simple, free way to spread the word, provided you have clients willing to sign up and make recommendations. Another option for those with businesses is to create a Business Profile, which adds information about your business to your basic account. This is a free upgrade, so there’s no reason not to do it if you provide any kind of goods or services.
Once you’ve established a business profile, you can request recommendations using an email form, Facebook, or Twitter from within GigaPark. Recommendations you receive will be stored on your publicly accessible GigPark business page, for which you receive a unique URL that you can include in your email signature, etc.
GigPark is definitely a service to watch, since it starts where you already are, leveraging the power of your existing social networks in a convenient, user-friendly way. If it can gain some momentum, it could become a valuable web working resource indeed.
How do you choose service providers, doctors, handymen, etc. now? Do you think a GigPark-style social model would simplify this task?