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Join the Discussion - Without Saying a Word

I tell my clients that they should instruct their staff to sign up for one of the many discussion groups that reflect their job responsibility in their company. Here are just a few to consider to help your staff become web-savvy in their various departments.

NOTE

At the Internet Knowledge Exchange, you can sign up for any or all of the email discussion lists described here as noted on the web site. Though subscriptions to each list are not free, they're not expensive either—under $25 a year. You can also view the archives of each list to bring you quickly up to speed on the latest discussions.

  • Sales: The I-Sales discussion list is a forum on almost every conceivable aspect of selling on the Internet—by people who are actually doing it. There is no resource anywhere equal to I-Sales in terms of bulk content. I-Sales is included as one of the TOP 25 discussion lists on the Internet according to Sales Links. Global in nature, the I-Sales community currently comprises more than 16,000 subscribers from more than 70 countries around the world.

  • PR: The I-PR discussion list features news, tips, and resources for developing and implementing successful Internet public relations campaigns. Subscribers to the list include PR professionals and marketing executives. Topics covered in I-PR include PR strategy and implementation for the Internet, online media relations, Internet PR tools and resources, industry articles, and news from major trade shows and seminars. Many leading Internet PR experts are members of the I-PR community, and they're generous in sharing their knowledge with others on the list.

  • VPs and department heads: The purpose of the I-Strategy list is to help list members grow their Internet businesses by discussing Internet strategies and business models and to spark discussion on how the Internet is growing, changing, and affecting everything we do.

  • Customer service: The I-Customers discussion list explores ways in which to offer customers better service and to establish lasting relationships with those customers. List participants share secrets describing how common sense and technology can help gratify customers and build loyalty. Subscribers also evaluate customer relationship management (CRM) strategies to discover what enables businesses to understand, delight, and even positively surprise their customers.

  • Copywriters: The I-Copywriting list discusses ways to write great copy online. I-Copywriting is about paying much closer attention to the importance of great copy online. Remember, it's the words that actually get the job done. Not the content, not the mission statement—the copy.

  • Human resources: The I-HR discussion list began with the recognition of serving a growing group of Internet professionals who need the Internet to compete for a diverse group of employees—from mechanics to ASP developers. It gives HR professionals the ability to share opportunities, avenues, and roadblocks that many HR people encounter and the opportunity to share and discuss critical issues with colleagues in a professional, moderated forum.

  • IT: The I-Security discussion list provides a resource for computing professionals seeking to develop and maintain secure networks. The discussion list examines the information security issues that matter most to computing and business professionals. The forum provides for the discussion of everything from the latest firewall technology to the current viruses.

And let's not forget your web site developers. Have them subscribe to one of more of these lists to stay up to date on what's happening in their industry:

  • The I-Wireless discussion list is a professional, moderated forum designed to deliver information, knowledge, and news covering the wireless spectrum from BlueTooth to ZagMe. Many industry leaders are subscribed, with discussions ranging from location-based technology to mobile commerce (m-commerce).

  • The I-Search discussion list is a forum to help participants understand how to improve a web site's ranking in search results. The I-Search discussion list can help your developers achieve higher rankings for your web site by giving them the information and knowledge essential to the task. The I-Search community includes many industry leaders (including representatives from all of the major search engines), and discussions center on the proper methods to optimize web sites to achieve high rankings in search engine listings. Members share optimization techniques and optimization strategies.

  • The I-Design discussion list is dedicated to helping web site designers and marketers acquire the skills necessary to build a web site that will optimize the successful delivery of a message. Discussions center on how to design concise web sites with maximum effectiveness and no fluff. List participants share ways to deliver a web site that loads quickly, has clean and clear navigation, and has well-written, on-target content.

  • The I-Developer discussion list is a forum for professional developers and others who are interested in learning the skills of the craft or becoming aware of new technologies before reading about them on the job market. By posting to the list and sharing their knowledge, experiences, and ideas, participants build a powerful resource to aid in professional development.

  • The I-Content discussion list explores how to acquire, present, and profit from useful writings, pictures, and data—both online and off. Whether you're a creator, publisher, web site owner, syndicator, consultant, or consumer of content, you can exchange ideas about running a business that involves either free or paid material. Participants express opinions, share perspectives, pose questions, and debate controversies regarding how to make content appealing to a target market and how to price, repurpose, distribute, and protect that content.

An important point to keep in mind. All of these discussion lists are moderated. What does that mean? "Moderated" means that messages sent by list members are received by a moderator, who reviews each one and selects the most pertinent for inclusion in the published issues. If you want your posts to the list to be accepted, you must follow these 12 rules:

  1. Messages should be succinct and to the point.

  2. Signature files are limited to three lines with a width of 40 characters and may include the following:

    • Your title
    • Your e-mail address
    • Your phone number, fax number, cell number
    • Your company name
    • Your URL
  3. If you have a business connection to a product or service mentioned in your post, this should be clear to anyone reading the message. Blatant commercial advertisements will be rejected by the moderator.

  4. The moderator will reject inappropriate posts, including, but not limited to overt solicitations and personal attacks; for example, if the post was clearly submitted to ask the list to visit your web site or was a clear promotion of your company or business.

  5. Don't send attached documents or graphics. Send your messages in unformatted plain text.

  6. A post will be rejected if it was submitted by replying (hitting "Reply" in your email client) to a received digest, which quoted the entire body of the publication in your message. Such submissions are a waste in bandwidth and time-consuming for the moderator.

  7. Posts must be on-topic (related to the subject matter of the digest).

  8. Posts should not cover a topic that has been thoroughly discussed in past issues of the digest. Be sure to check the list archives using the search feature if you're unsure whether your post has been discussed previously.

  9. The moderator will reject any post that's full of misspellings or typographical errors, or has an overall unprofessional appearance.

  10. Posts must be signed, with a minimum of your staffers name. Anything less than this reduces the credibility of the post.

  11. No HTML backgrounds or HTML tags are allowed. All posts submitted should be unformatted plain text.

  12. Posts must be relevant to the entire list, not direct responses to individuals.

The Net can be a valuable source of education to keep your staff up to date and web-savvy. Encourage them to use it.

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