The Internet is a wonderful way to find people, across the world, who share your interests and your concerns. Ultimately this is of far more value to you than the ability to use a search engine. Think about this in two ways. You have a need to find people who can help you, and other people are quite likely looking for someone just like you, if they could only find where you are.
Most people limit their search for information on the Internet to a search of the world wide web. There is an endless amount of data you can collect there, but far more important and badly neglected is the ability to find groups who are interested in the topics that interest you. You may happy to share ideas with people, some of whom become friends. In finding the interest group you also usually get some access to the leading thinkers and researchers, if that is your need.
One of the best ways to find these groups is to begin with a social network, like Ryze
As a member you can search for people who share your interest. You can probably view members homepages, visit the blog they write, or a personal web page, and their company web site. You may be able to write directly to the people involved. Ask them if they know of good groups or lists to join.
Going back to a slightly older process, list-servers have been wonderful tools for giving high value data to large groups at low cost. Most lists have a large database of searchable files. If you need to know what experts are saying to each other searching listserver databases can be useful.
If you start your own interest group, that could help. Your group is a flag attracting attention, and if you are lucky the right people will come to you.
All universities are connected to and run themselves hundreds of specialist lists. Professions in every country are likely to have similar lists. Most of these expert groups are now "private". You may be able to join such lists, but often by invitation only.
In contrast Yahoo Groups
have thousands of public lists that you can join. The leadership of these lists is very varied. Some are well led by people with knowledge but many are not. Try your luck.
A good list will introduce you to more people, seek out the best of those. They will help you find other places where even more interesting people can be found. It's quite likely that the same person is on several networks, but you become aware of them only in one place. Your purpose here is to get to know people, and for them to know you too. If you are going to develop new contacts, try to mix with the best.
It's important to find knowledgable people, they create interest and you can also ask them questions. This allows you to be involved in a conversation. You may be talking to the author of a book, or a university professor, or a successful entrepreneur. In addition you are engaged with other people who can also contribute to that conversation. This is can be a superior learning environment. If it's not you simply leave.
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