Join an Online Community to Get Ahead in Business

If you want to join an online community rather than build your own, it’s important to look at several communities to ensure that you spend your money and/or time wisely before getting too involved. It’s pretty easy to tell quickly if a community is one you want to stay involved in if you know what to look for.

* Uses Real Names – You don’t really want to waste time in a community where everyone is anonymous. You want to make real connections with real people with whom you can conduct business. When you are dealing with a lot of anonymous people that isn’t going to happen; instead you could end up scammed.

* Has Active Discussions – The owner of the group should be working hard to ensure that discussions stay active and productive. If no one has started a new discussion in the last week other than to spam the group, it’s probably not a very good community.

* Offers Plenty of Content – You want to be part of a community that offers informative content to the audience that is helpful to their business. If the content and information that is available is old and outdated, it might not be a community that you want to waste time on.

* Has a Podcast – A really good addition to any online community is a podcast where the host interviews members and also experts in the niche. This keeps everything new and fresh for the members and keeps them coming back.

* Community of Customers – The best community you can join is a community full of potential clients for you. For example if you’re an author’s VA you might want to join a community of authors.

* Community of Colleagues – Alternatively, you might want to learn more about your niche by joining a community full of your actual competition. It can be very enlightening to learn from others who are doing what you are doing.

* Notice Who Is Commenting – When a discussion starts, who is starting it and who is commenting on it? You may notice that the same people are always involved in the discussions. That is okay as long as the comments are well formed, intelligent, and there aren’t a lot of disagreements without someone checking the discussion.

* How Many Blatant Ads Appear? – Some measure of promotion is okay because it’s their community that they started likely to promote themselves, but you want the promotions to be well thought out and not the only thing the community is about.

* Do They Offer Live Events? – Webinars, teleseminars, Twitter parties, and even in-person live events speak to a well-organized and established online community that will continue to grow and thrive.

Choosing an online community to become a regular part of is an important thing to consider, because it takes a lot of time and effort to create value from the experience. You don’t want to spend your time in the wrong place. To join a community of Christian women who mean business and intend to be successful, join The Lydia Circle.

Amazon Mechanical Turk: Is it What You Need in Your Business?

In an effort to keep you updated on the latest in available technologies to assist your business, I’m letting you know about a new service provided by Amazon call Amazon Mechanical Turk.  This service is being pegged as one of the most radical inventions in online outsourcing.  According to the site information “Amazon Mechanical Turk is a marketplace for work that requires human intelligence.  The Mechanical Turk web service enables companies to programmatically access this marketplace and a diverse, on-demand workforce. Developers can leverage this service to build human intelligence directly into their applications.”

I’m not positive about all of the features or usefulness for the very small entrepreneur but it certainly looks promising.  It seems that large companies can also benefit from the system.  Apparently, it allows you to outsource tasks to other human beings for pennies.  Amazon Mechanical Turk is great for all those tasks that aren’t quite highly paid enough to bring on a real outsourcer, but are still too complex for a computer to handle.

So what kind of tasks are appropriate for use wtih Mechnical Turk?  A few examples are:

  • Look at a picture and determine if it’s uplifting or depressing.
  • Look at a name and determine if it’s a man or a woman.
  • Look for any words in this picture.
  • Look at an advertisement and determine what the core message is.
  • Look over a Yellow Pages scan and identify all the phone numbers.

Basically, these are all tasks that you would want a person performing rather than a computer. Amazon calls these “Human Intelligence Tasks” or HIT for short.

To know how HIT’s work, well, you set a price for each HIT to start.  For example, let’s say you want someone to look at a picture of a person and determine if they’re male or female.  You might set the price at 5 cents apiece. You figure a human being could do one task per 15 seconds and earn 15 cents per minute or $12 an hour. People who can work faster than that can earn even more.  For a lot of outsourcers, this kind of work is a dream come true. For many businesses, paying a few pennies for data is much more cost effective than developing software to perform the task.

Setting up a task is said to be pretty easy.   Begin by setting up one of the pre-made templates provided by Amazon to use as a base or you can create your own template from scratch.  You then upload your data sheet. This contains all the data that you want to sort.  For example, let’s say you’re having people look over your list of emails to determine if the names are male, female, undetermined or if they look like fake emails. You’d start by creating a template with four options: male, female, undetermined or fake email. You’d then upload your list of email addresses.  Mechanical Turk will present outsourcers with each email. The outsourcer will be awarded with a HIT every time they finish sorting an email for you. Once you’re satisfied with your results, you can pay all your outsourcers at once.

It’s said to be that easy! If you have tasks that need to be performed on a mass basis and you don’t have the software to do it, consider using Amazon Mechanical Turk to handle all your Human Intelligence Task needs. Find out more about Amazon Mechanical Turk at the website.  It could be a great way to get some help in marketing your business.  Meanwhile, I’ll see if I can get more information to share with NACWIB members during one of our monthly coaching calls.