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Set Facebook and MySpace aside for a moment and consider another group of social networks. It's the upper echelon of social networking with invite-only communities made up of movers and shakers, business leaders and high-society members with power and money. Here's a VIP glimpse at three gated networks and how joining (once you're invited) can offer lucrative networking opportunities.
A Small World
The community: Members range from entrepreneurs and business leaders to influencers in media, entertainment, fashion and sports. More than 65 percent live in major European cities, and more than 10,000 are CEOs.
Behind closed doors: Aside from numerous marriages, business transactions and random acts of kindness among members, 14,000 events were posted by members last year, according to founder Erik Wachtmeister.
The community: The intellectual, value-driven members of this network cover Europe, South America, the Far East, the U.S., Africa and the Middle East. With an average age of about 33, 40 percent of members have their master's, and finance and banking are the most common areas of profession.
Behind closed doors: Co-founder Ioannis Voudouris has seen members collaborate in successful ventures, form business deals, sell and rent real estate, and even get married. "We often have investors who are looking for lucrative business opportunities," he says, "and entrepreneurs with good ideas and business plans."
The community: Created by luxury lifestyle group Quintessentially, Qube members span the globe and a majority reside abroad. Backgrounds and professions are diverse as well; January's "most prolific messenger" and "most connected" Quber was the CEO of a large marketing firm in New York City.
Behind closed doors: Qube hosts a variety of user-generated discussion forums, with topics on travel, charity, property and more. Business is by far the most popular forum, with members seeking web designers, real estate partnerships and contacts in hospitality, for example.
These elite networks offer slightly less-restricted admittance and industry-specific communities: