Web 2.0 Primer Part 2: How to Get Started by Creating Your Online Identity

If you have not already done so, you might want to read Part 1 of this primer

So you are convinced that you want to “join the revolution” and now you’re wondering what to do first. Here are the first 8 steps that you will probably want to take:

1.      IDENTIFY YOURSELF: Here are the most common types of contact points:

a.      Set up a domain name and email address that make sense <you@yourname.com> and <www.yourname.com>.

b.      Sign up with Skype and you can use your computer to talk to anybody in the world for free (if they are on Skype) or for a minimal charge (if they are on a land-line or cell phone). Think of it as point-to-point telephone without the telephone company. For a fee, you can even buy numbers in other cities around the world in order to appear more international.

c.      Set up some sort of instant messaging ID such as an MSN Messenger account or an AOL account. The problem is that many of these services don’t work with each other, so you end up using something like Adium (Mac) or Jabber (Windows) to “bridge” between the different services. At this point, It might be simplest to stick with Skype.

d.      Set yourself up on Linked In where you can list your skills and career information and also connect with colleagues and both give and receive endorsements. The jury is still out on how useful this service really is at the end of the day. But it can’t hurt.

2.      BUILD A PERSONAL BLOG OR WEB 2.0 SITE. Use a hosted service (like Blogware, TypePad,  WordPress, Bryght, etc.) which supports using your own domain name. Do  not use something like Google’s Blogger.com because your site URL will be  yourblog.blogspot.com and then Google owns your domain (and part of your  identity). Same goes for MSN Spaces or any service that forces you to  subdomain (yourname.xxxx.com).

3.      MAKE IT EASY TO READ THE BLOGOSPHERE:  You want tools that allow you to keep a list of your favourite sources.  Ideally this will be web-based so that you can have it no matter where you  are or which machine you are on. Some examples of the best ones include: Bloglines (web based), NewsGator (Outlook), FeedDemon (Windows), NetNewsWire  (Mac). WARNING: As always don’t put data in a online service that you don’t  want others to potentially know about. The likelihood of this is small but  there’s always a chance. For confidential RSS subscriptions, we recommend a  desktop app like FeedDemon (Windows) or NetNewsWire (Mac)

4.      TAG YOUR CONTENT SO THAT OTHER PEOPLE CAN FIND IT EASILY.  Most blog programs will let you enter your posts into categories but they will also let you “tag” your content so that people all over the internet will be able to more easily find  all of those resources related to a particular tag, no matter who created them or which site they are on. Think of them sort of like keywords for the internet.

5.      SHARE YOUR BOOKMARKS WITH THE WORLD.  Have you ever thought it would be really great to be able to share your bookmarks with your team or your friends? You can do this by using something called del.icio.us. Using this site and connecting it to your web-browser, you can quickly share a bookmark with the world. You can also use it to see who else likes that bookmark or what bookmarks your friends and colleagues are interested in.

6.      LINK TO YOUR ECO-SYSTEM of partners, colleagues, and even competitors: Using your LinkedIn, skype, Instant messaging, Flickr, or whatever accounts, connect to  those people who are part of your ecosystem. This is not necessarily about  quantity as some people think, but about establishing links to the people,  companies, and organizations that are relevant to you and your life.   At a bare minimum, you should connect to your closest contacts, and also put a list of links on your blog that are really key for you.

7.      FIND THE THINGS THAT INTEREST YOU…OR HAVE THEM FIND YOU: You will want to know what is going on in the world  without having to constantly scour the internet for new feeds to add to your  list above. One of the great tools for doing this is PubSub where you can  set up searches for “your name”, “your company”, plus URLs, your  competitors, your organization, and other keywords. Another way to search is to search for del.icio.us tags so that you can find all related content no matter where it is. Set up  del.icio.us searches for your company, your organization, industry keywords,  competitors, or anything else relevant to you.

8.      READ, LISTEN, CONTRIBUTE, ENGAGE  Find cool stuff and comment on it, tag it with del.icio.us and blog about it  as appropriate. Make this part of your day like reading and writing email.  Don’t go overboard. Start with 10-15 minutes a day to start. Aim for one  comment, or one tag or one blog post a day. And remember linking is the  currency of Web 2.0. So if you are writing a comment or a blog post, don’t  forget to link to your sources and to your inspirations. Give credit where it is due so that others will do the same for you.

9.      PROVIDE VALUE TO YOUR NETWORK: Help other people build up their skills, build out their networks, and achieve their goals. This the essence of humanity and the essence of web 2.0 –  cooperating to do things that are impossible alone. Aside from that, it’s fun and makes you live longer.

10. MEET IN THE REAL WORLD – As often as possible, get off the computer and connect with your community in the real world. Beer and nachos are a better connector than web-links!

Contributors: Roland Tanglao, Richard Erikkson, Boris Mann, Troy Angrignon.

Coming Soon: Web 2.0 Primer Part 3: Moving from Newbie to Intermediate Web 2.0 usage