Networking with other industry professionals is becoming easier to do as new websites pop up almost every day. While social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook keep people connected, UPworld is the first online community geared toward individuals involved in the architecture, construction, engineering, and real estate industries. Since its launch in April 2007, UPworld has grown in size to more than 2,000 members in more than 40 countries, which demonstrates that a website offering design and building industry professionals a web presence and the ability to network with other colleagues is in demand.

“The idea simply came from a need we saw in our own practices to tap into new resources and new expertise to be able to grow one's business,” explains Jennifer Magee, an architect by training and co-founder of UPworld along with urban designer and architect Oisin Clancy. Magee and Clancy both have their own practices based in New York City. “Initially, we tapped our own networks, people we knew and had worked with,” Magee says about how she and Clancy began to recruit members for the site. “People were receptive to the new opportunities out there to meet like-minded people.”

The greatest benefit of the site, which is free to join, is that it gives users a web presence, Magee says. If someone does not have their own website, they can join UPworld and create a profile, where they also can upload images from their portfolio. A group feature will be added within the next six months that will let companies join the site, with individual employees able to place their profiles under that company umbrella. Group members also will be able to talk to each other via the website.

Focusing on a particular industry is one of the benefits of UPworld. Magee says she had no trouble meeting other architects before launching the website, but “you don't tend to get jobs from other architects if you are one yourself.” Rather, work comes from those in the various industries that UPworld targets. “There's not an organization that has brought all those industries together,” Magee says. “UPworld allows a diverse group of people who share common interests to pass opportunities around and meet people who they might not normally have met in traditional circles.”