if you wanted to know something you trudged across campus, no matter the weather, and planted yourself in front of the microfilm.
This was our version of the Internet; Google was still a twinkle in someone’s eye. It was a long and painstaking process that drove many a student to coffee addictions and sleepless nights.
Now we have this whole World Wide Web that has the capability of finding any answer to any question your heart desires in a matter of milliseconds while you sit on your couch and enjoy some ice cream from a Yum Yum Dish.
Going online can be an amazing resource if you know what you’re doing.
Whether you’re trying to sell yourself or your product, the Internet can be a wonderful resource.
The growth of online communities has done wonders for those attempting to find and meet the needs of a particular audience.
Brainstorming used to require small groups in an office setting, but today you have the power of brainstorming at your fingertips, virtually, with like-minded people. Online communities have coated a certain nuance for developers and those wishing to appease a particular audience. There is literally an online community for almost any genre one could engage in.
You should use this to your advantage. The sheer amount of these communities might make this an overwhelming task at first, but something I learned in college may come in use to help you ease in and begin to utilize the Internet for all it’s worth.
Early in my career, I was exposed to a method that was used to counteract writer’s block.
My professor expounded that if we encounter writer’s block, which we all know can rear its ugly head at any given moment, to take a step back and relax. She believed that, to cure writer’s block, you only needed to employ one simple strategy. It was so simple, yet so genius!
The method consisted of free writing for 5 minutes a day. The goal was eventually to return to form and break out of your block. It was referred to as the Swiss Cheese Method due to the gradual writing and “taking holes” out of the bigger picture. I believe this method can transcend to the world of Internet communities and decrease the procrastination that is present within all of us.
Each day, for 5 minutes, use an online community. It’s easy and an excellent way to gain valuable information pertinent to your goals and increase your exposure in the world.
I’ll plan out your first week, but from there it’s up to you!
Monday: Go to Facebook and set up a profile or Fan Page for yourself. This is a great way to get your message out and inspire conversation from your target audience. (It’s easy too).
From here you can invite people to be your friend or fan and really pick their brains to get a better understanding of the feelings of your community.
Tuesday: Set up a Twitter account. Twitter is fun, user-friendly, and a great way to keep your clients, friends, and supporters up to speed on your recent happenings. Once you have your profile set be sure to “follow” others, as they can be a great source of information, inspiration, and motivation for your endeavors!
Wednesday: Set up a LinkedIn account and join groups pertinent to your field. LinkedIn is a great business tool because it allows you to connect with other people who share your interests and engage in discussions with them on a larger scale.
With LinkedIn you can create a conversation topic and watch the thread grow with advice and information that would take hours to garner on your own.
Thursday: Look to sites like Reporter Connection, PitchRate, and HARO that connect you to the media and ultimately to exposure for free. These media connection services put experts, entrepreneurs, authors, and business owners in touch with journalists who are looking for stories based on the experts’ knowledge.
This is a great way to gain exposure and further your goals – and the best part; it’s free!
Friday: Now that you’ve taken care of setting up your profiles, blogging is next on the list. Sites like Blogger.com and WordPress allow you to publish news stories, updates, or just personal ramblings online.
Blogs can be a great resource for spreading your message and keeping your audience informed of your happenings. It is also a good idea to find blogs of those in your community and follow them to keep on the cutting edge.
Now that you have your profiles, connections, and blog set, it’s time to use them for all they’re worth. Peruse these sites to find more connections and then you can fully realize the plethora of information and exposure that has become the Internet.
The concept of online communities can be daunting, especially if you’re new to the game. If you follow my plan for your first week, I believe you’ll find that it makes this daunting task quite approachable.
Remember the Swiss cheese analogy. Little bites lead to a completed project.
More from Women Grow Business:
- Terri Holley’s social media marketing resolutions for 2011
- Suzanne Paling’s guest post on how to uncover your business’ unique sales cycle
- Why having a baby will be good for my business from Joanna Pineda
Image: arbyreed via Flickr, Creative Commons
Twenty-year PR veteran Michelle Tennant Nicholson is Chief Creative Officer of Wasabi Publicity and co-founder of www.PitchRate.com, a free media tool that connects journalists, publicists, and experts. Called a five-star publicist by Good Morning America’s Mable Chan, Michelle specializes in international PR, working regularly with the likes of Oprah, Larry King, BBC, The Today Show and other major media. Contact her at PR blog http://www.StorytellerToTheMedia.com where she teaches tips from the trade.