This is part 3 of a 13 part series on the anatomy of your online presence.
See Part 1: The Brain and Part 2: The Eyes
The anatomy of your web presence, the nose, represents your ability to sniff out new opportunities. The days of websites are over. Things are changing at rapid pace and new opportunities are coming up all the time to increase your links, visitors, exposure, etc.
The reason you have to develop your nose for sniffing out new opportunities is because you will usually get more buzz with less effort if you find some new, upcoming opportunity vs. jumping on a bandwagon and competing with everyone else.
Take Digg for example. It is a great site and getting on the first page is very valuable, but it is also not something you can easily accomplish because so many people are trying to get on the first page of Digg too. If you were an early adopter of Digg, before it was so popular, it was much easier.
So how do you discover the next Digg for your industry?
#1 It is not about technology.
The first thing to understand is that it is not about technology.
The tools for developing web-based applications have gotten better and easier. You can now go to eLance or a similar site and hire a consultant that can often build you something great for a few thousand dollars if an off the shelf open source (free) application does not meet your needs. Technology is only a barrier to entry if you let it be.
So if it is not a “latest greatest technology” issues, what is the issue?
You are the issue. How do I get you and 1,000’s of people just like you to use common tools and communication channels to create a community of people that pay attention?
#2 Community is the Future, and the Future is Now.
Your best bet is to become a major force in driving a community to success that is populated by your target audience. Notice I said a major force in driving a community to success. You have to find the right community online and help it grow, add value to it, be a major player and make it a better place for people to succeed in.
Can’t find a great community around your industry? Form one and commit to promoting it and adding value.
Here are some technologies to build an online community. Remember, the technologies are less the issue, and getting people to come an participate will be your challenge.
Wiki – A Wiki is a group of web pages that a community can contribute to, build and comment on.
Online Groups – For years there have been online groups consisting of message boards, profiles, email lists and image uploads. The obvious ones are hosted by the major search engines.
Online Communities – Many magazines and other online properties have their own community centered around there topic. Why don’t you? It’s Free.
News sites - News Sites are where the community posts and votes on the best news in their industry. Because you can also build a group of friends in these sites, you can build your own group around your common interest.
Blogging – The biggest advantage of blogging is the community you can build around it. Not only can you participate in other’s blogs, but you can build a great community around your own ideas. Add some of the following tools to your blog.
But do you really need to create a community?
But before you use any of these tools to create your own community, use your nose to sniff out other opportunities. Do some searches and sign up for some other people’s communities and lurk around a bit. Here are the questions to ask yourself when assessing the value of participating in a new online community that you have found.
- Are people in this group interested in what I have to talk about?
- Do I like them?
- Is the community active and growing?
- Can I stand out in this community is I participate regularly?
- Can I contribute valuable information regularly?
- Will this group be curious about what I am selling? – Since you should not sell directly, will the group be interested and explore who you are?
Don’t join too many. Find the best and commit to helping the group grow and you will have an impact and get more results.
How do you find new opportunities?
There are a variety of tricks to sniff out new opportunities.
Search Engines – The most obvious is search engines. Doing searches on your industry and words like community, profile, members combined should bring up some interesting reading.
Follow the leader – A great way to find valuable resources is follow likes from respected resources. For example, an article in your trade magazine or a popular blogger may point you to a great new resource.
Find lists – There are many websites that rate and list good resources. A good list can be very valuable to you. Here are a few examples.
Read Web 2.0 in the news – Keep an eye out for news items mentioning buzz and web 2.0. Things like this article – http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19712442/
Word of Mouth – If you know some geeky tech entrepreneurs, I can assure you that they find out about these new things before they become wide spread. The first time I heard about Digg was from a podcaster. I wrote it off as not a big deal but should have jumped in back then. Ask your tech friends what is new.
Make a habit of sniffing around
Your Internet presence will be enhanced when you participate more. You will create buzz if you get comfortable nosing around online communities and new web 2.0 tools and giving them a try. You may even have some fun too.