Social networking, popularized by teens sharing information with their friends online on Web sites such as Facebook Inc., is now blooming in the business world, thanks to new social networks that enable professionals and executives in industries such as advertising and finance to rub virtual elbows with colleagues.

Millions of professionals already turn to broad-based networking sites like LinkedIn to swap job details and contact information, often for recruiting purposes. Business executives also have turned to online forums, email lists and message boards to sound off on information related to their industries.

Now, online services are trying to promote a more personal type of business networking. Unlike relatively simple message boards that are open to all, these new sites -- including for doctors and for the wireless industry -- have features such as profile pages showing professional credentials; personal blogs that function like a kind of online diary; links to "friends" online; electronic invitations to real or online events; and instant-messaging.

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