Computer for Connections—Gets My Vote

TelephonesMy top 3 great things about the Web: access to information, access to people, access to people doing cool things with all that information. I’ve blogged about the information part, and today I want to address connecting to people and following the cool things they do.

Once you have accepted the challenge to learn the basics of digital survival, developed a strategy to get you there, and committed to taking action, you are already on the road to a more rewarding relationship to computers and the Web. To recap:

Use your computer to email the people that matter (I know, I know, so last century…). Use Skype to make free calls on your computer (look at their video tutorial), or Vonage to use your high speed connection as a phone line for your regular phones at home or work for much less than a land line (see how it works).

Use Web 2.0 tools (oooo  ahhhh—a fancy way to focus attention on ways the web can be interactive and participative—rather than just telling, we’re talking with 2.0). Social networking sites are a great example, use them to land a job and stay in touch if you are more of a solo worker. If so, Mark McGuinness’ top social networking picks for creative professionals will give you a ton of information on social networking. Check out Facebook to keep up with friends (explained here by Robin Good), or LinkedIn to keep up with colleagues and network for jobs (Guy Kawakaki explains more here), and use Twitter to bring yourself into real-time conversations on the Web. The newly curious or new to Twitter, can learn more from a Common Craft video Rafe Needleman’s explanation on cnet, or Twitteroid Mastering Twitter in 10 minutes or Less, from Chris Demetrios. I think these excellent articles by Sarah Evans on Mashable.com are best summed up, Twitter Do and Twitter Don’t.

Want to read a newspaper in another state and then find out what the locals think about a story? Go online, scan the story, skim the comments on the story, you can also comment on the story, and later follow what other people have to say back to you or about the story later on. Suddenly you have access to many different perspectives and communities—not to mention knowing more than you did a few minutes ago.

There are a lot of conversations out there, but if you take one piece at a time it is all much easier. Start by considering your goals (no surprise there):

  • What do you want to gain? Friends? Professional connections? Knowledge? Community?
  • What do other people you know use already? What do the thought leaders in your field use? Look for interesting conversations on the Web, if you don’t like one—move on to the next.
  • How you can benefit from connecting with others who share your interests? Personal satisfaction? Job leads? Extras for your next low budget movie?

No matter what you care about, other people are talking about it too, and some are in your local area. Just invest the time to find out where people are writing about your interest or passion and where they are building communities (try Google blog search and learn to identify top blogs in your niche courtesy of Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb). Check blog sites for links to social media sites like FaceBook, LinkedIn, or Twitter and see if you can connect with the authors in those places too.

More than anything, you have to participate. Put yourself out there and see what comes back.

It’s a big Web out there, have some fun in it!

I’ll be back after Thanksgiving explore how all of this connects to your Success in a Digital World. Happy weekend to you!