Commentary

Dot429, the 'Gay LinkedIn'

Online business networks focusing on minority groups are springing up all over the place, including dedicated networks for women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and other groups whose members can benefit from peer connections. The list now includes a social network for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender businesspeople, dot429.com, which might be described in shorthand as the “gay LinkedIn” (429 spells “gay” on a cell phone key pad).

Founded in 2010 by approximately 500 influential LGBT entrepreneurs, business people, designers, and entertainers, dot429.com says it is dedicated to helping members expand their business networks, further their careers, and stay current on goings-on in the LGBT professional community. As on other online business networks, members can communicate through profile pages, updates, messages and online introductions. There’s also exclusive editorial content in the form of articles by industry insiders, politicians, and key LGBT leaders, covering a range of topics, including finance and business, but also leisure and entertainment. And there’s also a big experiential component, with monthly social events across the country for members to connect in person.

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Dot429 has already attracted a slew of luxury, financial, and big-ticket advertisers, including Infiniti, FIAT, Cadillac, GMC, Buick, Wells Fargo, David Yurman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tribeca & Soho Grand, Standard Hotels, and The James Hotel.

Gays and lesbians in general are heavier users of social networks than the population at large, according to a 2010 national survey from Harris Interactive, which also found they are more likely to read blogs than their heterosexual counterparts. According to the Harris survey of 2,412 U.S adults -- including 271 identifying as gay or lesbian -- 73% of the gay and lesbian respondents reported having a Facebook profile, compared to 65% of heterosexuals. Meanwhile 32% of gays and lesbians said they were members of MySpace, versus 22% of the heterosexual respondents (the proportion of both groups is declining). In the professional arena, 22% of gays and lesbians said they are members of LinkedIn, versus 16% of heterosexuals. 29% of gays and lesbians are on Twitter, versus 15% of heterosexuals.

Gays and lesbians are also more frequent users of social network sites, according to Harris, with 55% saying they visit a social network site at least once a day, compared to 41% of heterosexuals. 30% of gays and lesbians visit several times a day, compared to 17% of heterosexuals. Turning to other online media, 54% of gay and lesbian respondents said they read blogs, compared to 40% of the heterosexual population.

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