The OPEN Forum by American Express has a new look and a new home, as part of the American Express cardholders site. It has an updated look and extended features.
Before I tell you more about it, let me share a little behind-the-scenes background about my involvement with the OPEN Forum.
I’ve been writing over at the OPEN Forum by American Express on small business topics for a year and a half. I’ve enjoyed it so much that I have saved some of my best work for over there. Besides being a creative outlet for my ideas, the most exciting benefit is that it’s helped to grow my own business. It’s given my personal brand and my business brand much more visibility.
It was even more gratifying when American Express opened up the opportunity for the experts here at Small Business Trends to participate, also. Almost 20 of the hand-picked small business experts from this site, have been able to contribute over there, too.
Whether it’s Joel Libava, an expert in franchises, or Laurel Delaney, who knows so much about taking your business global, or Zane Safrit, who writes on leadership and employee issues, or Martin Lindeskog who shares his love of the United States and free markets while writing from a European entrepreneur’s perspective — or one of the many other experts here — I’ve been delighted to introduce them to the OPEN Forum. They have all added so much practical advice and perspective.
They are in good company with well-known people such as John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing, Guy Kawasaki, and now quite a few other thought leaders who contribute to the OPEN Forum.
So let me tell you a little about the newest iteration of the OPEN Forum:
- It’s got a clean new look, with a slowly rotating gallery of articles anchored by a large graphical image, in the center of the page.
- It features all the uniquely interesting content from the “old” Open Forum, including blog posts with their from-the-trenches perspective and inspiration; links to OPEN Forum events; and videos featuring celebrity-entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson. The content is open to the public to read.
- If you are an American Express cardmember, you get even more features, including the ability to create a profile and access to a networking tool for American Express cardmembers. The idea is that when you’re connecting, you’re connecting with other verified businesses, not anonymous users. There’s also a business spotlight that highlights selected cardmember businesses — a nice “reward” for being a customer.
- You can find it at the same address: http://openforum.com
A little more behind the scenes insight: I’ve been working through Federated Media, which represents Small Business Trends along with over 100 other independent Web publications. Federated Media had the vision to recognize the freshness and personality of independent publications like mine. Without FM and their vision to help shepherd the OPEN Forum project from a content perspective, my business would not have grown as fast. If you’ve ever wondered what a good partner can do for a small business — well, it makes ALL the difference. I can attest to that. Between Federated Media and American Express, it’s been a fast ride and I look forward to the future.
There are a lot of talented people at Federated Media, but two of the people whose vision has helped shape the OPEN Forum in particular are Alexis Leinoff and James Gross. James, VP of Sales for FM, captured in an email why I enjoy being part of the OPEN Forum so much, “American Express OPEN understands the merits of publishing online as a platform to drive engagement and community better than any other brand that I have worked with. OPEN Forum is set up to get stronger as business owners continue to use the larger Web as a utility to grow their business.” Nicely said, James!