The Gray Hair Speaketh

Advice that is largely Unsolicited..

LayoffSupportNetwork.com – Support System for Laid off workers

Javed Ikbal has founded this support site for laid off employees, LayoffSupportNetwork.com.

LayoffSupportNetwork.com

LayoffSupportNetwork.com

What is it about?

LayoffSupportNetwork.com is a not-for-profit support group website, for people who have been laid off. The cause is very noble and very timely, considering such support will be a big need at this point in time.

What more?

The site uses a combination of subject matter experts (about 10% content) and user generated content (balance 90% content) for the information presented on the site. Key areas of interest including concerns on money, living (changes in lifestyle), health and of course, job resources to enable reemployment at earliest, are separately addressed.

There is a donate button of significant size on home page, but Javed informs that the button does not generate serious donations, and the amount collected does not even cover the hosting costs for the site. Any other means of collecting revenues, such as advertising etc. are not visible at this time.

Other Observations:

It does appear to be a new site that has come up soon, and is likely to undergo more changes over time. The design is minimalistic and will probably go through some changes. The membership numbers so far, are quite small. Even from the content point of view, the design will suddenly become unmanageable, if the articles and users increase.

Wisdom Nuggets:

1. There is an urgent need to raise the membership. Given the benefit of doubt that it is a new site, the focus has to be on growing the numbers rapidly. Social networks, especially online ones of this type, need numbers to be useful and productive. Also in times like these when we read about tens of thousands of people on laid off list, it should be possible to get into far higher numbers quickly.

2. Of course, in order to raise the numbers, the key value proposition for the members must come out clean and strong. I would suggest highlighting that on the home page, rather than the big space taken by members’ photos, login area and the donate button. The login and donate areas must shrink to small size, and space must be given to clearly zero in on the benefits offered to members. And a few pictures of new members could still be accommodated to show the increasing acceptance of the model.

3. During layoffs and times of economic recession, there are many government bodies which offer some assistance to people. Javed confirms the same to me. It should be possible to integrate that help with the site strongly, as that could become one key advantage offered here.

4. Inter-member interactions are not very apparently visible here. A support group of this kind needs to enable this and promote this. Support group members look to each other to provide the necessary first shoulder to lean on. This should be enabled and shared link for the same.

5. Besides a few SME articles, what is the key differentiator for people to use this site? It may be worthwhile to analyze deeper and figure out what could be 1 or 2 biggest concerns of this demography. And if those are addressed quickly, clearly and proactively, then the user acceptance will be faster.

6. If sponsorship is to be solicited online, then a good pitch for the same, may be made and kept ready.

All in all, if there is a genuine value addition offered to the users, and which is apparent, then the concept and the need is strong enough, to make it a big success. If, due to the lack of revenues and being non-profit, Javed finds it challenging to devote time and work on this, he must enlist more volunteers from his early group, and ensure growth – with the design, content, layout etc. to be perfect.

Rest of course, this is a niche segment, and how fast and how far this business goes ahead, will need to be seen in future.

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February 23, 2009 Posted by | Recruitment, Social Networking, Startup | , , , | 2 Comments