Erika Engle

Friday, December 12, 2003

Ryze-ing to the occasion
of online networking

One of four well-known national online networking sites is planning some face time for its local members.

The "About" link on the home page explains that the site is about helping people make connections and grow their networks. "You can network to grow your business, build your career and life, find a job and make sales. Or just keep in tough with friends," it says.

Registration is free but there is an optional subscription level membership., founded by Adrian Scott of San Francisco, appointed Jon Cook as the Honolulu area representative within the last few weeks.

Ryze guys "come in periodically," Cook said, apparently staying low-key.

The appointment is not going to make him rich, or even allow him to make a profit, but the graphic and Web designer is planning a gathering for Oahu's Ryze members in late January. The mixers are meant to be monthly and will receive some financial backing from Ryze headquarters to cover expenses.

Cook set up a Hawaii Business network on Ryze earlier this year because he didn't see much, if any Hawaii activity on the site. He is renaming it Ryze Honolulu to be more inclusive.

A temp worker currently employed at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, Cook is a free-lance graphics and Web designer who also offers search engine optimization. He is creating a new Web site for his freelance work, which will be at Panana is Hawaiian for pilot, or compass, Cook said.

Hawaii ex-pat and public relations veteran Keith Kamisugi has been a Ryze member since last year. Ryze,, and are all social networking sites.

"Those are the four groups that I belong to that I found worthwhile," Kamisugi said. "The whole purpose of the sites is to create the ability for people to leverage the six degrees of connections that we all have naturally, as well as the intrinsic connections that we have, based on similar background experiences, or work.", an online community which has a Honolulu site, is a different animal, he said.

Ryze's model incorporates the best of online dating with business and social networking, but "to be clear, Ryze is not a dating site," Kamisugi said.

The Ryze site enables a member to express who they are, to the degree that they are comfortable sharing personal information. Kamisugi's profile, for instance, states that he is from Honolulu, Hawaii.

"That word becomes a live link," he said. "I click on 'Honolulu' and everybody from Honolulu comes up."

People from around the country and world have contacted him through the site, either by posting to his personal page or via e-mail.

Kamisugi created a Hawaii network page, popular with expats but also with non-kamaaina who simply love the islands.

Ryze membership has helped Kamisugi professionally in generating leads for potential clients.

"I will see a CEO or a VP of a company that has an interesting product or service and I'll leave them a private message just to say, 'Hey I think it's great. Just to let you know, I do public relations.' Then, what happens is that person, before getting back to me, can go to my page to get a feel for who I am and if they like that and are interested in whatever I'm offering, they reply back to me," Kamisugi said.

He finds it is also a valuable tool for staying in touch with friends.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at:


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