A couple of announcements from companies we’ve worked with have come across my inbox lately. And the common thread in these announcements is social networking in procurement.

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Social networks in general are certainly not a new concept. And with mixed reviews about the recently-launched Google+ – ranging from “it will put Facebook out of business” to “do we really need another Facebook wannabe?” – it is clear that just launching a new social network is not newsworthy.

Fortunately, the two procurement-related announcements represent a variation on the social networking theme. They are not just social networks per se, but they use social networking tools to support their procurement mission. And that’s fresh. And consistent with what we are doing with the Next Level Purchasing Association.

So, in this post, I will cover those three social network-related sites for you.

Next Level Purchasing Association. The Next Level Purchasing Association is an all-online, free, and modern model that was launched in April 2011 and replaces the outdated traditional association model of the 20th century. All the typical benefits of a traditional association (e.g., magazine, seminars, etc.) are provided plus much more. Part of that “much more” is a Networking section of NextLevelPurchasing.com. There, procurement professionals from throughout the world can – and do – interact via a clean interface that is like “Facebook for procurement professionals.” While the networking aspect of the Next Level Purchasing Association is pretty cool, it is only one part of a more robust service. For more info, go to http://www.NextLevelPurchasing.com.

Buyers Meeting Point. Buyers Meeting Point started out a few years ago to be pretty much a social network, from what I can tell. But the company has been quite nimble and has adapted to the marketplace, which seems to be demanding more than just another social network. While they still emphasize social networking using their LinkedIn Group, Buyers Meeting Point is carving out its niche through its coverage angle. They are dedicating a lot of virtual space to continually covering events (e.g., conferences, webinars, etc.) and reviewing books of interest to procurement professionals. It’s an interesting angle and they seem poised to do it better and more consistently than others. With this change, Buyers Meeting Point seems like a service to watch out for in the years ahead. For more info, go to http://www.buyersmeetingpoint.com.

My Sourcing Team. This procurement social network seems to have a very sharply defined focus – to connect MRO category managers so that they can share intelligence and, as a result, all do their jobs better. It is a joint venture between Spend Matters, Procurement Leaders, and an individual investor who is a sourcing professional. Though the site has “that social network look,” from the descriptions of this site, I’m not so sure “social network” is an adequate description. It appears to be more of a professional collaboration platform, which could be a twist that gives it a lot of traction. My experience is that commodity managers can be somewhat nervous about benchmarking and collaborating directly with peers, but perhaps that will change as the old guard inevitably gets replaced by the new guard. If the fresh faces entering commodity management bring their inhibition-free approach to online sharing into their worklife, My Sourcing Team seems well positioned to help them connect with their like-minded peers more easily. For more info, go to http://www.mysourcingteam.com.

So, there you have it. Procurement social networks with a twist. While these developments are undoubtedly exciting, one thing is certain: the technology will change as the world changes and it will only get more interesting in the future.

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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