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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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