BY Debra Mugnani
A pair of rollerblades jump-started my journey onto the information superhighway. The popular new sports craze caught my fancy last summer, but only for six weeks. This was all the time I needed to break my tibia and fibula in my right leg. A six month healing process confined me to my home and presented the challenge of running a business from home.
As the owner of Monroe Personnel Service/Temptime which specializes in the placement of regular and temporary office support staff, I could not let my injury keep me down. Telecommuting seemed the only way to go! Networking my home computer with my work computers via modem proved to be most efficient and allowed me constant interaction with my office in San Francisco.
Since the modem was already in place, a friend suggested that I explore on-line services. She knew a cancer patient who found on-line services to be a great source of medical information and a unique way to make new friends. With so much time on my hands, the idea really appealed to me. Enlisting was as easy as dialing a telephone number and giving the service your credit card number.
Currently I use two services, Delphi and The Well. Each provides similar services and offers unique features. While both offer e-mail and internet access, The Well utilizes a bulletin board format and its rather progressive users have get-togethers and organized events in the Bay Area. The possibility of meeting my fellow “virtual community” members was certainly a plus. Delphi offers an on-line real time chat, a perfect outlet for my outgoing, people personality temporarily trapped within the confines of my home. People log on to the service from all over the country and the world, and converse on subjects ranging from weather and sports to philosophy and politics.
On these services you may enter a profile or biography, which includes a brief description of yourself and your interests. My profile mentioned that I live in the Bay Area, own a personnel service and am recuperating from a rollerblading accident. Not long after I submitted this profile, someone inquired if I handled personnel searches for office managers in Silicon Valley. I responded and he asked me to tell him more about my business. At first it felt strange to describe my business over the on-line service, but I realized that it was not that different than responding to an inquiry at the office. As the on-line conversation progressed, I suggested a candidate who soon proved to be a perfect fit for the job. One day and one interview later, he had a new office manager and I had made a new business contact. I wish that all of my business would come to me this easily!
Business contacts continue to roll in via on-line services. An owner of a computer training business and myself recently met after conversing on-line, and discussed collaborating on a few projects and referring clients to each other. Several temps have registered with us after chatting with me or reading my postings on-line. I have also discovered several qualified candidates for jobs I’ve advertised in the on-line classifieds.
Although my rollerblading accident left me physically idle, I moved freely about the on-line services drumming up new business and interfacing with new clients. My rollerblades continue to age in the hall closet while my hard drives’ wheels are moving me closer and closer to the 21st century.