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Surfing, Searching, & Networking 101
Everyone knows the internet can be very useful for finding information or learning something new. In all honesty, the internet should be your #1 resource for finding any remote information. The problem is everyone do not know how to use the internet to find information or to their advantage. It's simple and I'll give some tips & secrets to successfully using the internet to your advantage.
Surfing the Web:
The first thing the internet is ...is "information". Lots of it. Anything you want to know or need to know can be found on the internet, but where do you find it? There are so many resources and ways of finding information. Surfing the web is probably the best way to find non-targeted information and find a new website. When surfing the web you basically, start with a common site (or not so common). Begin by browsing the content within the site...then you click on a link which takes you to another site and you browse through its content, click on a link within that site which takes you to another external site...and you are surfing the web. Browsing through content. Those few task just mentioned can sometimes be an hour or two worth of surfing, mostly depending on the interest of content.
Searching the Web:
A more targeted approach is trying to find information about a specific product, service, person, place, or thing. For targeted searches we need a tool, something that will help us find what we are looking for. The most common tool is "search engines". Search engines are designed for this particular task, to find information across the web. Search engines have special digital robots which search through millions of websites at incredibly rapid speeds, crawling and digging through tons of websites and indexing them into its databases for faster retrieval. When you go to a search engine like Google and type in a keyword or phrase then click search you are presented with URL's which have been indexed within the search engine database and matches the keyword or phrase which you entered. It cannot be expressed enough to say how well you should familiarize yourself with using a major search engine. You should be able to use a search engine to find just about anything you can think of.
Forums & Discussion Groups:
Forums & Discussion Groups are a great way to find information on the web. Participation and contribution is what makes a forum or discussion group useful, powerful, and successful. These are ways to help others, communicate with others, share knowledge or experiences with others, or simply chat and network with others. Most forums or discussion groups are niche markets and targeted to a particular audience.
There are a few that are for the general population. A very popular forum in the webmaster world is WebmasterWorld.com (no pun intended), their targeted market is webmasters, online advertisers, search engine optimizers, internet engineers, and internet enthusiast. You can find very useful information within most forums & discussion groups. The proper way to participate & contribute to forums & discussion groups is to help others when you genuinely have an answer, don't just guess and post...you can make an educated guess and post, but blindly guessing just to raise your rank is childish and unhealthy for the platform. When debating, remain civil and courteous to others.
When debating, you should have some sense of intelligence and knowledge about the topic at hand. Respect others opinions and views. Don't try to change minds but try to get your point across rationally. Never pick a fight or get in between a heated discussion. Keep your username/handle (and real name) respectable.
Remember that you cannot hide on the internet any information you provide or any public information can come back and bite you....e.g. username stalking, which I will get into more about later. Stick to those guidelines and your forums & discussion group experience may be well received.
Blogs a.k.a. Weblogs, Online Journals, or Online Diaries:
This is the next generation way of obtaining information on the web, but gracefully becoming a prominent way. Blogs are not only personal entries about a individual life. Blogs are used to convey information and provide a confident platform for retrieving the latest trends, gossip, news, information, rumors, and hype. This can be accomplished by an individual, a group, or a company.
Most blogs allow visitors to leave a comment. Familiarizing yourself with a handful of blogs is a perfect way to network and connect yourself with people who share your interest. Blogs are mainly niche markets, though there are many successful miscellaneous, personal, and general blogs. Blogs are most successful when updated daily and is dependent on the social and emotional connection you have with your audience. Blogs are usually personal thoughts, opinions, views, and experiences of individuals. Sometimes individuals form a group and author a group blog, providing thoughts, opinions, views, and experiences from each member of the group, this sometimes makes a more powerful and interesting blog, a popular blog which utilizes groups is boingboing.net.
It is a good idea to start a blog of your very own, there are numerous free blog host out here, such as: journalhome.com, blogger.com, and livejournal.com. The blog host makes it easy to begin blogging (the art known as authoring a blog). You simply signup for their service, choose your template (design & layout), and begin writing your entries. You do not need to know any programming, but it helps to understand HTML, if you plan to fully customize your template. It does not matter what you write about, it can be personal, professional, casual, informative, instructional, entertaining, or anything you can muster up. It is your personal space to author. Even though it is your personal space on the web it is strongly recommended to limit your personal information on the web, when visiting any website, never provide too many details.
Once you have had your blog hosted for some months/years and it has grown to a respectable state, then you may decide to host your own blog. The main benefit of hosting your own blog is the scalability and branding. Though, hosting your own blog means you will need to spend money, install scripts onto your server, and configure your script and server. I recommend using one of the mentioned blog host before hosting your own blog, hosting your own blog without an audience is not wise. Blog host are the best places to start, because it is free, easy, readily available, and they provide you a community (audience).
Doing Your Homework:
Using the mentioned information portals above, you should be resourceful in finding any information you need on the web. When doing business on the web you should only rely on trusted sources. This comes down to doing your homework. If you find a company on the web which you wish to do business with but have never heard of the company, then you should use good judgment. The best way to make a good judgment call is to research the company and website. If you utilize any of the mentioned above you should be able to find reliable information. Gather information from several different sources and then compare the results. Basically, does the good outweigh the bad? You now have a rational review to use good judgment. Using advanced technologies is also sometimes necessary such as using advance search operators, such as: " " (which when quotes surround the keyword will return the exact search phrase) or use of the plus (+) sign (which will return any search which contains keywords in your search phrase). A good site that makes use of Google operatives is soople.com.
Contrary to the name the art of "username stalking" is considered positive in my form of expression. It is wise to choose a quality username when conducting business online. Typically, an active internet user should have a different secure username/password for conducting professional business and a different username/password for personal and miscellaneous activities, as well as a different email addresses. Note: A different secure username/password can also be used for any account which stores any financial or credit card information, you should never use your personal, miscellaneous, or free account username/password in relation with your business username/password or your financial/credit card username and password. Having more than 3 different username/password combinations can become a bit confusing, just the same as explaining it is.
Username stalking is the act of searching the web by usernames. Usernames and handles when applicable are the most visible information about a person on the web. Choosing the right username and handle is suggested because you do not want to misrepresent yourself. E.g. if you never worked on cars you wouldn't choose a username such as: TheAutoMechanic, would you? You want to choose something that represents you or something which is generic and general. When you are familiar with a plentiful of forums, discussion groups, blogs, and other communities, you will become exposed to usernames. These usernames can soon become handy.
If you are on a forum which interest you and after looking through the post you find someone who has your same interest, views, opinions, and thoughts...then surely you would be interested in frequenting his neighborhood. Finding his hangouts can expose you to a new crowd of individuals who you relate to. This new world can possibly be more advanced or less advanced than your current internet world, but hopefully something new and interesting.
Do a search on your own username in Google and see if it gives you results from sites which you are a member or have frequented. This is why it is recommended to separate business, pleasure, and finances on the web. Using different unrelated secure usernames/passwords is the best way to separate the three. Username stalking is not anything new, but it isn't something publicized because most who use that technique are wrong doers for different purposes. This is a great example of how it can be used wisely and responsibly. Always, remember usernames and any other information deposited onto the internet is not a secret, even if you can't find it.
About The Author
Ant Onaf is the owner and founder of http://www.JournalHome.com He is an online internet marketer, content writer, and IT consultant. Ant Onaf has years of IT-related experience and Internet-related experience. His ingenuity, dedication, and passion for technology, internet marketing, & writing have made him a monumental icon in the World Wide Web. His blog can be visited at http://www.journalhome.com/AntOnaf
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