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Blogging for Beginners – Top 9 Things a Newbie Blogger should know

I wrote this back in May and have posted it to a few arena's but ultimately it should reside here with the rest of my Trainer Talks posts: 

So you created yourself a blog through a hosted provider such as Blogger or WordPress and then it’s all like – “Now what do I do?”.

We’ve all been there and as much as the main focus seems to be on driving more traffic a lot of people forget or even do not realise that there are a few more basics to blogging than generating traffic. I have been asked this question a few times so I put together what I consider to be the very basics to blogging in the beginning:

1. The biggest thing you need to do is be patient – patience is something that not a lot of people have but really when you are building a steady base for your blog you need to have this. Rome was not built in a day and your blog design, writing, audience won’t be either.

2. Use proper language and grammar - it really does not matter what your site niche is, if your site is poorly punctuated, hard to read and difficult to digest then no one is going to look any further than the first few lines. Take a few seconds whenever you create a page or a post to ensure that everything is in order and reads well. You will be forgiven for the odd mistake but a post full of them means people will switch off.

3. Improve your blog - this relates to your layout, the content. It takes a while for any blogger to really settle into their blog and as you grow with it you will find that you want to get more out of it and the only way to do this is to experiment with your layout, experiment with your design. Find what works for you, look at the gadgets and widgets out there and play until you are happy. People may argue that your followers will get fed up if you keep changing it but if your theme and name is the same it won’t matter that you are improving your style, if anything it will keep people intrigued.

4. Write consistently – One thing that happens quite often is bloggers will have spurts of writing and they will generate day after day, post after post and publish them. What happens when things go quiet? writers block takes hold? time doesn’t allow? well you end up letting your readers down, they come back regularly and then discover that you’ve not posted for 3 weeks so they think you’ve abandoned your blog. Make a decision about how often you want to post and within reason stick to it. Your regular readers will discover your publishing habits and you will see them return more regularly. On a plus side for all the writing spurts there is the draft button, you can create a post, save it to draft and publish it later.

5. Don’t fall into the Follow Me Follow You trick – For anyone out there running around forums and posting “Follow Me and I’ll Follow You” I think this is a complete waste of time for traffic – it does what it says on the tin the ranking on Follow me/you only really works for increasing the number of people who clicked ‘Follow you’ it doesn’t affect the SEO’s (Search Engine Optimisation) unless there is registered activity and chances are they won’t return to your site ever again. Joining in on other people’s events and linking to each others blogs is a better way to direct traffic and will be so much more productive for you than clicking on several hundred follow buttons.

6. Build Relationships – There are a number of forums out there in the blogsphere e.g. Blog Frog, Blog Catalogue, Technoratti, and many many more, I have joined a number of forums and although I have left half of them by the wayside I have found the ones I am comfortable with and the ones where I enjoy the interaction with other communities and bloggers. These forums enable you to find out how to’s, advice, discuss comments, share posts and interact in a positive way. You will also be able to build successful networks of bloggers who in your time of blogging need prove to be just as good as your BFF.

7. Comment Love – I am a firm believer in comment love, but for anyone leaving a comment of ‘I agree’, ‘I love this’ and ‘oh here’s my link’ etc. it is lovely to see it but it doesn’t really push me to go look any further at that person’s blog. People love comments, me I love them more than stats, don’t be disheartened if you don’t have comments against posts, sometimes it takes a while for people to get into your blog and start leaving comments. I am a firm believer that if you leave comments, there’s a strong chance you will get comments back. When you leave a comment it’s better to leave a well thought out comment about the subject matter. It doesn’t have to be an essay but a well constructed response such as “I really like the view point you gave on ***** I have been in this situation myself and actually wrote a post on it (then it’s OK to leave your link) I would love to hear your thoughts on it” gives you the perfect opportunity to start a discussion with a person about their post and share something that you’ve written previously.

8. Don’t steal or borrow – You might find yourself inspired by someone’s post, if you feel that a point they makes backs up your post make sure when you write your post you include a link to their post and then leave it in their comments section. I can guarantee any blogger will love that you’ve quoted or linked to them but they will not love it if they find out you’ve nabbed their work and if they have copyright you can find yourself in big big trouble.

9. Plug Ins and Widgets - I see so many blogs that have nothing other than just the content and for some it does work but I have a few plugins and widgets that I just would not be without:
Social Sharing Tools – lets my visitors share my blog and posts via Facebook, Twitter, stumbleupon, etc.
RSS Sign up – Allows people to bookmark your site so they can obtain updates and keep on track with your blog
Link Within – Enables me to display thumbnails of other posts relevant to the post being read.
Broken Links – scans my blog and tells me of any links that are not working, this can be from links I have created or even links left by people through the comment section
Akismet – Spam scanner, protects my blog from spammers and enables me to delete all with one click of a button or if they happen to be real (not very often) I can approve them
Comment Luv – once people leave comments on your blog, comment luv will pick up their last post from their blog and automatically leave a link to their site, It is great for generating links and therefore sending off little radars to the SEO’s.
(I’ll try to keep this as simple as possible, a plugin is a script(code) that is uploaded into the back end of your blog which will give you additional functionality, a widget is usually the vehicle for accessing or enabling that functionality to improve the appearance of your blog most widgets are derived from a plugin but not all plugins need a widget e.g. Commentluv is a plugin that once you activate will work on your blog, there is no need to add a widget, this is the same with Broken Links and Linked Within, etc).
Wherever you look in the Blogosphere there will be people telling you to do this or don’t do that. At the end of the day it’s your blog, you can pick and choose what you want to do with it. Make the most of the design, layout and context and then go out there and pull people into it. The rest will come in the future, I have said this before, you will get out of it what you put into it but if you are serious about building your blog then it definitely is worth the time and energy to do the things listed above.
Trainer Talks was my first blog and it's always been on blogger but I have two other self hosted blogs:  Almost There and Samuel Michaels Photography, I change the look and feel of my blogs in line with the growth of them and probably will continue to do so in the future. 

If you have a question feel free to ask, if I can help I will. In the meantime happy blogging and don’t forget to come back and check for updates.

I want Google+ but what do I do with it?

Did you try to get in with the latest phenomenon sweeping social media and then found you couldn't get into it?

Did you manage to get in and then didn't have a clue what to do with it?

Well if you answered 'Yes' to either of these questions, you aren't alone.  Seems that everyone is jumping onto it without realising what it can actually do.  I asked a few people why are you you interested in Google+:

"Well it's free, right?" and "everyone is doing it, right?" and "it's by Google, so it has to be good?"

Well can't argue with those statements, so tell me what do you do with it then?

I'm just teasing, remember the days of MySpace and then all of sudden we had Facebook, didn't nearly everyone move over because MySpace had become just a virtual spare room, the kind you can't open the door to because so much has been dumped there and it's practically spilling its guts onto your newly hoovered landing.  Oh well I guess the Facebook spare room has been heading in the same direction for sometime so now we have a brand new room in the form of Google +.  I have to admit it does look clean and tidy, but then if I create a new Facebook account it looks the same because I'm not connected to anyone yet.

Before I signed up to Google + I took a look at what it could do for me, what was the point of signing up to yet another platform for social media sharing.  We all know that if you don't spend your life and sell your soul to the devil, sorry a sensible amount of time, putting the effort into these things then they just fall by the wayside.  Anything that involves followers unless you're the kind that only has an account to store photo's and connect with your mum and sister, well I think maybe Facebook is always going to be the better option for you.

So what exactly is Google + all about?

Firstly, lets remember that it's not fully complete yet, I have a message on my wall that tells me categorically I am part of a small group (namely 10 million or so give or take a few 100 people, I did just pull that number out of a hat - so don't quote me) helping to test it.  So if you couldn't get on to it, don't panic, just find someone that is and they can invite you.

But WAIT!!! Before you go rushing off, there’s still a % of people that won’t be able to join in just yet.  The message from Google:

“When you share something with people who are not yet able to use Google+, they will receive it via email but won't be able to comment or engage with the content like other Google+ users. They'll be able to join Google+ as we let more users in over time.”

So do you want to know what it's about?

Well Google+ is a social sharing tool combined with communications it has taken some of the key features from Facebook, thrown in a bit of Twitter, enabled some additional functionality that you would get with Flickr/photobucket and then thrown a bit of Skype on top. Yes there’s some other stuff in there but you have to bear with me right now I’m still learning too.

The one benefit that I see is, with Google’s other products such as Gmail, Picasa, Google Maps, you can start to see it coming together.  I already can get from my Google+ to my Google mail by the toolbar that runs at the top of my screen.

Being able to drop my thoughts, my blogs, share my photo’s, video chat and combined with being able to share all my latest web crazes and fads at the click of a button really does appeal to me.
So this is what the Google+ main page looks like:

I hear you “Oooohhhhh   it’s pretty!!” 

Do you like?

I see you nodding - do you still know what to do with it?

No! Ah well I’ll get to the point then.

When you start to set up your Google+ profile, it is fairly intuitive and it does walk you through what you need to do, it even suggests people who you may wish to connect with.

I’m not going to talk about how you create your profile, upload your photo, etc.. just what you can do with Google+.  So what are all these things?

This bit here is my stream, and the radio buttons to the left are my 'Circles'.

Everything you do in Google+ will be based around your stream, if you think about what happens when you receive information and updates through Facebook, Twitter, etc, its pretty much the same.  Your stream is your news feed, the part which is constantly updated with information every time someone including yourself posts something.   You have a text box to type messages and you can respond or comment on the items that appear on your stream. 

Those radio buttons underneath my profile picture are how I have defined each one of my Google + contacts.  Why?

Well a nifty little feature of Google + is Circles.  Circles enable you to put your friends, family, work colleagues, stalkee’s, hobbyists into their own specific groups so when you share information or want to view information you can choose which bits you want to share and see.  Why would you do this?  Well when you’re having conversations or sharing photos with your friends you aren’t always going to want your Mum or Gran to see or hear the same thing you just revealed to your best mates.  In the same way as you might want to share some of the latest train spotting hot spots without letting work know that you are in fact a closet train spotter.  

If you look at my stream circles, I specifically have one for blogging, I keep all my blogging friends and hot blog contacts in this circle but there a few (and you guys know who you are) that I have also put into my Avoid like the plague, (Tee he he no seriously) Friends and Family circle. I may want to see and share the blogging stuff but you guys are family so I need you in there too.  Do you get the idea?

Adding and setting up your circles is easy as pie, on the main page of google, you just go here:

Once there you get the choice to view people in your circles, Google will automatically suggest people you might like to add, that’s what all those faces in boxes are or you can find your friends, either through your contact list in Yahoo, Hotmail, by uploading an address book you exported to your hard drive or by the good old fashioned way of typing in their email and inviting them to join you.  From this page you can drag and drop each of your contacts into the right circle for you.  If you don’t want circles then don’t create them but I do think they are a great idea.

So that’s circles’s.  What are you thinking so far?  Do you like it or are you thinking you’ll stick with Facebook, etc.?

So what else is there? Well there’s Hangouts!

“ooh Hangouts, how do I get me one of them? What does it do again?”

Hangouts are the super cool group chat feature, now if you’re an avid Skype-r you will know that you can group chat.  I haven’t tried this feature on Google + yet but it does allow you to group chat with up to 10 people.  I guess it could get a little confusing if you’re all trying to talk at the same time but for large families or friends based all over the world or country it means that you are one step closer to having that virtual Christmas dinner without having to face uncle Jim’s reindeer pullover one more time.  I use the Skype version for friends in the states and family in Australia so it works pretty well for me, being able to combine my stream and my group video Hangout is making Google + really work for me.

If you don’t like the idea of video chatting, Google + also has Huddles for Group chat, it’s instant messaging for more than one person.  Again great if you are trying to arrange something with a group or even just to catch up and reminisce.  It’s all starting to come together, can you see why I quite like it?

So these are just a few of the features that I’m starting to see, one of the other cool things I like about Google + is my ability to share information with the click of a button but I already said that.  There’s another, Oh yes!!! another, Google has included in Google + Sparks.

Sparks is a way of finding information that is only of interest to you, click in the search box or click on an item and once you see the results you will see there’s an ADD INTEREST button.

Sparks will then keep you informed of any upcoming news, tips, etc..  It’s a way of filtering the types of information that only you want to see and it gives you the option to then share it with your friends.
Which is where I come to the last little tit bit of information.   I know there’s loads of stuff I could still be going on with but at this time the only other thing I’m going to share with you is the Google + 1 button.

Wherever you go over the web if you see this button, this means you can share it instantly just by clicking the button.  Yes we all use at some point the Facebook like seal of approval, we tweet, we stumble and so on but don’t forget you aren’t just flooding your wall with everything you like, you can use the circles to say who gets to see it or whether everyone gets too see it.  If you have a website or a blog and haven’t got a button, I would highly recommend getting one.
So that’s it from me, it’s been a pretty long post and I can safely say the longest one I’ve ever posted.  I hope  you got something from it.  If you have any further questions, well I’m not an expert but I may be able to help answer them or at least +1 it to you if you’re on Google+.
Until next time .

KISS - Keep it Short and Simple but is it always possible?

How often do you think about 'What is a good length for a post or even just for a piece of creative writing?'.  I see it all the time and there are many people who point out length of any proportion is too much - KISS is the rule, stick to it.  

I do not like the 'Keep it Simple, Stupid' or 'Keep it Short and Simple' acronym when referring to writing but I do when it comes to training.  When you are teaching it is always best to be precise and uncomplicated so that everyone can gain an understanding and learn.  However, when writing, it is different because it is so easy to get into the flow of words, sentences and paragraphs and very easy to miss the point, go off tangent and ultimately lose your audience. So does KISS work with writing?

I was specifically told anything over 300 words is too long.  Oh well! I blew that in the first paragraph on most of my pieces but it doesn't mean that people will switch off just because you wrote 500 plus words.

So my answer is 'not always'.  There are times when you have a specific point or story that you want to get across and yes keeping it short and simple is the best way to achieve this.  However if you are delving into discussion topics, analysing or need to explain different variables then no, keeping it short will not always work because your writing may lose its validity or the depth that is required to make your audience understand.

There are some points I try to consider when writing: 
  1. What is my point?  Did you start off writing with a topic in mind or did you just start writing because you need to get something out there today? Are you just ranting?  If I don't have a precise point but I've produced a short thesis, I take the main pieces and recommend keeping it short. Quality should not suffer for the sake of quantity and you never know but your first 1500 words of rambling might actually produce 400 words of quality content.
  2. Does my writing flow? I started talking about my friends birthday party and I've ended up talking about the perils of fishing in high heels.
  3. Can my readers breathe? Have I punctuated my words appropriately or does each one flow into a sea of unrelated words. If you take this "A woman without her man is nothing" it is open to interpretation however if you punctuate it like this: 'A woman, without her man, is nothing' or like this 'A woman: Without her, man is nothing.' you have two very distinct meanings to the sentence.
  4. Have I bored myself? Did I just write 1000 words that I really have no interest in re-reading, well if you can't be bothered, how do you think your readers feel?
  5. Do my readers understand this? The proof is in the comments, if you receive comments that do not relate to what you have written, the chances are your readers missed your point completely, generally that means you missed your point too (refer to point 1).
  6. Have I given the opportunity for engagement? Not just engagement but also have you made your reader think about what you have written, would you like to hear their point of views?  Unless it's a story I tend to ask lots of questions throughout most of my posts, mainly because I like to hear what people have to say but also because I like to make them think.
  7. Can I make it look more interesting?  For me good graphics and visualisation work just as well for keeping your audience reading; as would a short piece without them. 
  8. Shorter sentences make longer posts easier to digest.  Proper sentencing and paragraphing work wonders; regardless of whether the piece is short or long but a long piece of writing with no spaces is like a fine print contract to me - it holds little interest.
  9. Headings and Sub Headings - Your heading is going to be the first thing that most people see, a heading is often a reason why I read a piece of work by a writer I'm not familiar with.  Strategically placed sub headings can help to reinforce the point of a post but also engage me further. 
I fully understand the point of short posts being more favourable, given how busy everyone is and how as human beings we prefer to assimilate information but I do not feel there should be specific numbers to dictate how long your writing should be. 

There are lots of things you can do to make your writing appeal and just by engaging the most basic of them, the longer posts can be just as effective as the shorter ones. Are you someone who gets switched off by a long post before you have even read it or will you at least attempt to read it?

The Art of Constructive Criticism

Everyone likes feedback, no one likes criticism.  Do you agree? 

Imagine this:

You've worked really hard on something and then you hear "it's a really great piece of work but.." and then the person who made the remark puts pen marks across everything you've put blood,sweat and tears into, kriss crosses out sections, highlights over things.    Let's face it you've been delivered the opening blow and now all you are focussed on are the things that are wrong.   What happened to the really great piece of work, which bits? You can't see anything that was great; now it's just a mass of scribbles and scrawls of what was wrong....

So what is wrong with this picture? What could of been done?

Are You the always the Critic? 
When you are in a position to freely give someone feedback or whether you are in a position where it is part of your job, you are dealing with people.  People have feelings and as such feedback is often a natural craving, criticism is not. Think about you want to achieve:
  1. Why are you criticising?  Understanding your need to offer an opinion without thinking through what you are going to say is pointless, not only is it demotivating it can be demoralising and harmful.  If you are going to offer any form of advice make sure it is appropriate to the situation.
  2. Be precise, waffling around the point will not make it any easier to discuss the points you need to.  Be precise, concise and most of all leave room for open questions and dialogue.
  3. Try walking in 'their shoes' - the first step to being able to offer constructive criticism is to understand what the person is trying to achieve, not everything is black and white and without a proper insight you may get completely the wrong end of the stick.
  4. Are you criticising the person rather than the object?  If you are offering constructive criticism on a piece of work, then keep the points valid to that object rather than make them about the person e.g. "There is a lot of detail, have you thought about including a paragraph on ****" rather than "You discounted any points about this and you haven't included the right information".
  5. Giving indications of what you think and feel can help to give your perspective.  It is also more constructive to focus on the present rather than the past, unless you are using examples to support but do not compare as you endanger leaving the person feeling  worthless and as if they are in competition.
  6. Offer advice rather than orders - it is very easy to dictate that someone should do something when offering constructive criticism but often the best way to get a point across is to open a discussion.  That way you leave your thoughts and give the person on the end the opportunity to delve deeper into how they feel.  People will respond more openly to solutions that they generate even if you planted the seed.
  7. Find the positives - reinforce positives about what you see, this allows the person receiving the criticism to focus and invites the possibility of a collaboration.  If you start off with pointing out all the negative things then you risk being seen as just a complainer rather than someone who can offer some sound advice and it's highly unlikely that your comments will be taken seriously or the situation can become out of hand.
  8. Be realistic - if you go in guns blazing and leave loads of comments about 'how this doesn't work', 'you should change this' and 'don't ever do this'; you risk alienating the person from the very beginning. Give a realistic amount of critical feedback that can also be digested by the person receiving it.
  9. What goes around comes around - If you offer up your two pennies worth, don't be surprised if you get some back.  Be prepared and give the person a chance to give you some feedback on the criticism they have just received.
When you are on the receiving end.
It's no fun when you are constantly pulled up for things, when you need a little direction and all you get is pushed around.  The one thing I always think about when I am receiving criticism is what are they trying to tell me?  Are they just picking fault or do they have a valid point? in other words, I need to keep an open mind and try to understand their perspective. 
  1. Relationships are a two way process, everyone is entitled to their opinion and it is up to you whether you choose to acknowledge or ignore it.  If you ignore any feedback or criticism, you leave yourself open and blindsided, try to take in the experience and see what you can learn from it, constructive criticism can improve relationships and communication between people. 
  2. Two heads are better than one, by understanding what you are being told enables you to think up new ways of improving and bettering the object of criticism.
  3. Don't switch off, yes it is hard when you are on the receiving end but some people will start off with the 'bad' news before 'delivering' the good so actively listen and try to understand what you are hearing.
  4. If it seems personal, it doesn't mean that it is.  Some people are not very good at expressing or explaining themselves.  If you aren't sure whether they have a valid point, paraphrase to reiterate what you are hearing, ask the questions that enable them to explain it in a different way e.g. "I understand that this doesn't work for you, can you explain the reasoning behind your thinking?" or "If you were to approach this what steps would you take?".
  5. Don't retailiate, it is very hard when you are on the receiving end not to become defensive, but if you jump too early, you may miss some valid points.  Sometimes even in the most absurb criticism a brilliant idea can be formed but if you are dismissing everything you could miss this opportunity. 
  6. Turn it round, don't allow criticism to make you feel less or down, focus on the other person's actions and use it to take ownership and make your own decisions based on the conversation.
  7. Use it to your advantage, even if you walk away at the end of the day with nothing but a feeling of well that was pointless, use the time to rethink how the process was, why do you feel that way? Could you have done something to change the direction and potentially leave feeling like you got something out of it instead.
  8. Communication is key, if you do not feel the criticism is valid, you have a right to advise the other person but think honestly about whether their criticism is timely, specific and what you can do to change things before you speak.  If you can back up how you feel with specifics then it will be easier for you to explain why.
I see it so many times and I have to admit, having managed people defining the art of constructive criticism takes time and practice.   There are so many variables to take into consideration, I am fairly thick-skinned so someone could say something to me and I would not take it any more than just their opinion, however I have worked with people who would fly off the handle and get really upset or annoyed by a comment.  If we just took a little time to think about what we say and how we say it, regardless of whether it's an opening statement or a response we would get a lot further in collaboration and the generation of great ideas.

How to Build Your Network

Looking around the blogosphere, around the community forums and social media platforms I see one consistent; we all have a yearning to be recognised.  If you say you don’t then you’re misguided, hiding behind your sofa whispering “Please don’t find me” or you are so successfully recognised it’s gone to your head. 

It seems that engaging your audience – out there in the big wide Ether when you aren’t physically face to face with your audience is so easy to do.  I mean how hard can it be to be noticed out of the 400 million plus blogs published everyday?  So what did you actually do?  

You posted to Facebook, maybe you put out a Twitter post but you are starting to feel your efforts are in vain because NO ONE IS READING! What did you honestly expect that once you started posting everyone would just come flocking?  Well what else did you do to build your network?

“Eh erm……Network…..” Is usually the reply I get.

Network, yes that’s right – did I say a dirty word?

Nothing in this world will fall in your lap. If you want something you have to go out there and get it or at least attempt to.  Networking is a very small part of what you need to do to draw in your readers, it is also an extremely important aspect of building your online profile and presence. 

One of the key arts to growing your networks is to go out there and find them. Sounds easy, you found them then what? Once you have found the audience that you want to connect with you can invite them to join you. 

If you’re going to engage with someone then do it in a positive and meaningful way.   The biggest mistake a lot of people make is just to send random invites with no indication or message of why they have received it. 

Networking is not something you can just expect to happen it takes time and it takes energy.  There are some easy to follow steps but it takes practice to get it right, I look at these steps as way of guidance not as golden rules:

Step 1 – Understand what you want to achieve.

Understanding what you need to achieve is the first step to understanding how you go about it?  I want to live in the country and own a horse.  So what do I need to achieve? Fame, riches, a wealthy sugar daddy? No! I need to take horse riding lessons, there’s no point in having horses if I can’t ride. That is my achievement to reaching this goal.

So I want to increase my readership, what do I need to achieve? I need to network and market my blog, Not quite I need to build my readership through network and marketing.

Step 2 – Put yourself out there and make yourself accessible.

The best connections you have in life are the ones that you interact with on a regular basis.  These people that know you are the ones that will genuinely promote you without even thinking about it, so don’t forget them but you also need to let people know you are here.  

Create a fan page, open a twitter account, start creating interesting topics, join in on discussions.  The beauty of Twitter is that you can reply to topics and you do not have to be following. If you engage you are more than likely to gain a new connection.

Step 3 – Don’t assume it’s not of interest.

I write about training and development so therefore interacting with crafters and fishermen is not going to draw in huge amounts of interest, so I’m discounting you – Wrong! Yes it is important to find like minded people but I interact with many people from all walks of life, opening up my network of people and the topics that they are interested in gives me new avenues and also new inspiration. 

Step 4 - Be Confident.

Whether it’s online or face to face networking is about making the effort, feel good about yourself and what you have to offer.   Step away from the sofa and out of your comfort zone.  Having confidence to interact and introduce yourself will give you the ability to push your boundaries and develop relationships with new people.  Some people find this easier online but the same rules should be applied when building physical networks. 

STEP 5 – Value Adding.

Everything takes time but you have to also be willing to put in far more than you get out of it, especially at the beginning. As time moves on you will see it shift the other way but don’t become complacent, you still need to invest, add value, give time and continue to build those networks through connecting with people, providing quality links and sharing information.

STEP 6 – Avoid Introductory Selling.

How many times have I been approached with a “buy my book”, “download my music” – it’s not polite and it just sends out the wrong signals.  If you haven’t built your network, how are you going to come off as anything other than an opportunist? 

Use the opportunity to get to know your contacts and gather information about your networks.  Understanding that building networks is about interacting and supporting means that any information you collect and build you can use to your advantage. 

Step 7 – Don’t try to hard.

You can organically build your online network over time but there is a limit to how quickly you should try and do this.  If you try too hard and too fast you will break the connections you have created with your base networks.  Why? Because you are over occupied and for all the new possibilities you will be viewed as nothing more than a spammer. 

Building networks is a long-term commitment, a healthy and active community should become a vast resource at very little personal cost other than time and effort.  The opportunities are boundless if you know what you want to achieve, you may not have been able to get there on your own but networking becomes a key step in connecting you with a wider diverse range of people who can help you to achieve what you set out to.

Do You Know Everything?

"You only know what you know" but that doesn't mean everyone else knows it! so why do we take that for granted?

I find it very interesting that people have such high expectations surrounding knowledge and what you are supposed to know.  Just because you know something does not mean that it is gospel and the whole world knows it.

A prime example today was seeing a link to an innocent question asking what the bumps on the letters F and J on a keyboard are and the ensuing comments, some of which were quite insulting  If you have ever learnt to type or know someone that has, you will already have this knowledge.  If you do not know; they are there so that you can find the 'home' keys.  Touch typists do not look at the keys because they know where all the letters on the keyboard are, by having the home keys distinguished by the 'bumps' means that they can find them everytime.

So why then does society feel the need to insult someone for asking such a relatively intuitive question?  In the scope of everything there will always be something we do not know and for a large proportion of the population they will sit in silence and play ignorant rather than admit they do not know and ask the question.

I applaud anyone that has at some point in their life stood up and asked a question, no matter how stupid or insignificant they may have felt it to be. I would rather ask and learn than be  shutout in silence.

Knowledge is power so why not ask to discover it?

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