Review: About.com

One of the top destination sites on the Web, About.com is unique in that it provides original content, human-edited links to Web content, news, and online community on several hundred subjects, from ADD to Zoology, and everything in between. This unique combination of features, plus the fact that each guide is a real (and generally very accessible) human being make About a great networking opportunity. There are four basic ways to network using About:

Forums – About has a discussion forum for every one of their several hundred topics. Some are fairly quiet, while others are extremely active. For general business purposes, check out the Small Business Channel, which includes Entrepreneurs, Small Business Information, Small Business: Canada, Marketing, Management, Human Resources, and more. Or, if you a particular niche interest, odds are that there’s a topic for you elsewhere on the site. A lot of participants in the forums are new and inexperienced, looking for information, so it’s a great place to share your expertise and help people, networking at its best.

Publishing – Most of the About Guides welcome guest articles, as more quality content generally means more page views, which is how they earn their money. Publishing is a great way to demonstrate the depth of your expertise (see this week’s tip). And all guest articles on About are bylined so that readers can contact you directly.

Get to know the Guide – If you do the above two things, you’ll develop a relationship with the Guide. Because there are so many other people doing that, as well, About Guides generally have a lot of contacts, making them hubs – good people to have in your network.

Be a Guide – The ultimate way to network on About is to become a Guide. This is not a trivial process – there’s a rigorous selection process and a month-long training/trial period (which you’re not paid for). The compensation varies greatly from topic to topic, but the exposure and credibility you gain as a Guide is hard to put a price on.