I was reading an article in Clickz (one of the best sites about online marketing) and it wrote about a new feature from LinkedIn to enable members to recommend service providers to one another. The more recommendations a business has, the higher its ranking is. Another service, Grayboxx, crawls many forms of online media to score businesses on quality.
These services are useful, to some degree but overall I don’t think they are needed for those business owners who have taken the time to build an existing network of businesses they know and trust. Even if this is your first time in business you might have your own network of professionals to ask for advice.
Let me explain further. Your local Chamber of Commerce is one starting point. Next you have FREE advice from the SBA‘s Service Core of Retired Executives and other government centers including the SBA’s Small Business Development Centers.
HP has in fact partnered with the SBA to offer business match making events which pair small businesses with government agencies.
Between these kind of services, your lawyer and accountant I’m sure you could find a recommendation for any business service you need.
Going further, what about any online or offline business network services you are a part of – Fast Company Magazine’s Company of Friends., Business Networking Int’l (BNI) or other networks.
BuyerZone and Work.com are powerful resources you should also consider for finding business services and information about business products/services.
My point is – while services liked LinkedIn try to help you find businesses you can trust, your existing network is probably much better. I would only use these newer services as a last resort.