FMI ADDS 'IDEA EXCHANGE' TO JOB MARKET WEB SITE

WASHINGTON -- SupermarketJob.com, a Web site maintained by the Food Marketing Institute here, has added a networking tool for the industry's human resources community.The new site enhancement is the Idea Exchange, an Internet forum promoting connectivity among HR professionals."We have a lot of e-sharers at FMI that are member-only discussion groups, but this is really our first entry into message

WASHINGTON -- SupermarketJob.com, a Web site maintained by the Food Marketing Institute here, has added a networking tool for the industry's human resources community.

The new site enhancement is the Idea Exchange, an Internet forum promoting connectivity among HR professionals.

"We have a lot of e-sharers at FMI that are member-only discussion groups, but this is really our first entry into message boards and an online community," said Joy Nicholas, vice president of research and emerging technology at FMI.

"There are HR forums out there for professionals on a broad scope, but this is the first HR forum for this industry."

The forum, which was launched a few weeks ago, is steadily growing.

"We're very excited to see the increase," said Ryan Harrison, administrator of the Web site for FMI.

"Every day we see new users registering for the site and the exchange," he added.

FMI isn't involved in selecting discussion topics, however.

"This is entirely member-driven, so the users can talk about whatever they want," said Nicholas.

"Right now they're discussing college recruiting -- what colleges have the best programs and where they can get qualified candidates."

FMI officials anticipate its role will become that of information provider.

"If there is some expertise that our members might be looking for," Nicholas said, "we might facilitate that by having an expert join the online discussion."

The site has already proven beneficial for some industry participants.

"As soon as I signed up for it, I started getting e-mails immediately," said Simona Niculescu, corporate recruiter, Purity Wholesale Grocers, Boca Raton, Fla. "There were a couple of topics and questions that were very useful for me."

One benefit is the speed of response.

"I was really happy to see that once you posted a question, you'd get several answers within the same day," Niculescu said. "Sometimes the answer was posted within an hour."

Another benefit is the sense of community the Idea Exchange offers.

"The good thing about the site is that it puts you in touch with people who are in the same position as you, within the same industry," she said. "It's nice to see the perspective from another company that does the same thing that you do."

This connection could be the site's most valuable attribute.

"My main reason for getting involved was to expand my networking contacts," said Niculescu.