Monitor something on the web
There’s a lot going on, on the web, all the time. New companies, technologies, conversations, ranking schemes and more are created daily. You can pick one and start monitoring it over time. I monitor around 800 blogs’ Technorati rank for over eight months now. I publish precipitating results to my Twitter @blogmon account and accumulated results in here. It is not just helping me to weed out good blogs from the rest, it is also helping me to learn a lot about the blogsphere, Technorati, mashup challenges and more. There is still a lot to do in this little project but it help me to establish few, but very interesting connections through working on it. Few ideas: monitor tags from Delicious, the top 100 blogs on Technorati list (here), use Google Trends, Alexa, Twingly blog rank. If you have some programming skills you can automate most, if not all the steps and scale the process. If not, that’s OK too. You can start with only few. The added value is that you’ll keep consistently monitoring it over time and finding the right way to present the results. Where to report results? Read on…
From one of my favorite blog ReadWriteWeb I learned that there at least 35 Ways to Stream Your Life and counting. Pick one or more and join the conversation. The key is to do it right and here I’m still learning.
One way is to keep current, riding new waves of conversations – start with Twitter Search‘s Trending Topics or if you are in Europe use Twingly’s Hot right now. You can also see interesting tags on hashtags.org (Most Popular, Recently Added) and then search for them on Twitter Search.
Report results from your monitoring project: You can use Seesmic, Twitter, Jaiku, FriendFeed or any of the other life streaming tools. An interesting one that allow you to present your data using timeline is Swurl. You can use Google Docs to build online document that could be published and embed (using iFrame) inside a blog post, web page, pointed using a link from Twitter. A more demanding option is using Google Chart – good for automation.
Share interesting experiences, links, books, movies, knowledge – think what might interest others to follow.
It is amazing that all these great services comes for free. What that is more fascinating is how easy people with common interest find and subscribes to your feed and or vice versa.
Start a knowledge base, join and participate in a community, online book club or group
There are so many groups open for new members that are looking for active participation on Ning, Facebook, LinkedIn and many more. You can also start and lead one.
Examples: I joined Your Inner CEO Community on Ning. This is not just a good book but also a very active community. I’m also working building a knowledge base around Salability and Performance using an unbelievable smart service (armed with powerful semantic search engine) called Twine. I joined bloggers communities like Pijoo or MyBloglog.
I have to admit that things are going slow for me in this section – see the Bonus tip #2 for the reason why.
Become a beta tester
There is nothing more exciting (for me) than shaping new product functionality, look and feel. As an early adopter you have a chance to interact with extremely talented and creative minds building new technologies. You can contribute from your experience, and unique thinking, helping building a great new product. Be ready to deal with challenges such as poor performance, trouble getting subscribed, on-boarding, product crashes and hangs. Yet, be merciful, look at the bigger picture. Give feedback on both the details and the overall functionality. This is my favorite activity and the one that requires the most of my time. I wish I could do it more. You’ll be amazed how suddenly you mostly interact with the CEO, CTO and the VP of engineering (some time it is the same person :)).
Few ideas: use Mashable Beta Invite section to find candidates. Subscribe to Techcrunch feed, or subscribe by email (I consume it in this way) to learn about new companies. Some start-up companies’ offers private beta invites through Techcrunch blog.
Write a guest post
I could not help a little recursion in here 🙂 Now, seriously, write something compelling and offer it to some of the larger and established blogs out there. Having a guest blog post is a win win. You get to be noticed and the host to be perceived as the patron for upcoming new bloggers.
If you noticed I did not mention the word blog. I recommend having one even just because today this is the best way to create your web identity. I see mine as the home base. Yet, you don’t need to have a blog to establish web presence and blog also require some effort. Thanks to the great blog platforms available today it is not so heard to start from a very good place.
Two bonus tips:
Be patient – if you do start a blog Google appreciate the age of the domain and that you’ll consistently write blog posts. I noticed a significant change not before 6 month of blogging.
Focus – don’t do all these five at once unless you are single, have no kids and don’t have a life. Each one of the activities listed here demands time and should be done with care. It is better to do one or two as best as you could to build positive, meaningful web presence
I will not get into existential philosophical discussion about the why in this post (please create your meaning) but I will finish this post saying that I have a lot of joy doing so. I learned a ton and still learning constantly. I made new connections all over the world that otherwise could not have happened. So, give it a try.
Keren Dagan is a professional software developer manager and an amateur blogger. He likes to think both strategically and tactically on web technologies, trends, and phenomena. He mostly write about data and search engines technics. You can read his blog http://webnomena.com/ and follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/kerendg. Keren brings to the blogsphere more than 10 years of experience in software development and management building highly scalable solution for the enterprise and his unique way of looking at things.