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Tips for getting the most from the Business.Gov Community

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Tips for getting the most from the Business.Gov Community

By Stephen Morris, SBA Official
Published: July 8, 2009 Updated: February 24, 2011

Now that the Business.Gov Community is picking up steam at

over 3,000 users [update 7/28/09 now over 4,000 users], our team is looking for new ways to search, monitor, and

evaluate the wealth of knowledge created on the site. Over the last several

months, we have picked up a few tips and tricks that may be of help to

Business.Gov users.

Use the Community Search tool

If you have a specific question that you think the Community

may have already discussed, using this tool is an easy way to find the

information you need. The search field is located at the top of the Community home page.

For example, if you're looking for information about small

business taxes, you can input 'taxes' in the search field to find

discussion on the topic. I tried this search and found a great discussion about

some interesting tax advantages of running a home-based business.

If you want to search with more specificity, try using the

advanced search function. Here, you can search subject lines, tags, or within

specific discussion boards only.

Search tags to find local information

Community users have the opportunity to assign a

'tag' to each of their posts. Tags are small bits of information that

describe what the post is about. If users tag their posts with their state

and/or city, other users can find the post by doing a tag search.

For example, if I'm trying to find discussion about Ohio, I can use the Advanced Community Search and enter 'Ohio' for my tag

search term. Check out the results here.

The more accurately users tag their posts, the more robust

tag search results will be - so please, tag your posts! Currently, the top

tagger in the Community is luckycharmz336 with 133 tags. Great

work!

If

you want to browse a specific topic, take a look at the “top tags” field on the

right panel of the Community home page.

Follow the Community in a feed reader

Many of you may already use a feed reader, sometimes called

an aggregator,

to follow news media - but did you know that you can use a reader to follow

discussions in the community? Inside a board or a thread you'd like to follow,

select 'Subscribe to this Board/Thread's RSS Feed.' Follow the

instructions from your feed reader of choice on how to import the feed. This

allows you to watch several feeds from one location. Many websites already

offer feeds, or 'syndication', including blogs, news sites, job

boards, and so on. You can even follow the Business.Gov Team's Twitter feed*.

Don’t be intimidated by feeds, they are really easy to use

and can greatly increase your productivity.

Encourage and support good community behavior

If you think someone has posted something worthwhile, let

them know by giving them a 'kudo'. This helps the Community to stay

vibrant and on topic. I just checked the kudo charts and as of this writing,

TR_OK is our top

kudoed member. Congrats, TR_OK, and keep up the good work!

Provide the Business.Gov team with feedback

Every so often we post a

question in our ideas exchange.

Recent topics have included where to go for business advice and what topics should

be discussed on the site.

Do you have any tricks or tips for navigating the Business.Gov

Community? Leave your suggestions in the comments...

* This hyperlink goes to a non-government website

Message Edited by SteveM on 07-28-2009 02:20 PM

About the Author:

Stephen Morris

SBA Official

Stephen Morris is online media coordinator for the U.S. Small Business Administration where he manages digital outreach to the small business community.

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