The internet is full of cool niche groups that have been established for years. For instance, I tinker around with 3D CAD (Computer Aided Design) and have purchased two different types of experimental CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) machines. I don’t have one peer my age or nationality in my area who is interested in these types of technologies (sad). Matter of fact, the only people I can find who are remotely interested in CNC technology are older white men pushing sixty years old. When I needed help the only place I had to turn to was the internet. It only took a matter of hours before someone replied to my pleas for help. I had a pretty complex computer-related issue that had me stumped. To my surprise there were hundreds of sites out there that provided insight and assisted me in finding a solution. I had been considering sending back my $4,000 machine and software. If not for my knowing that these types of groups existed I would have been literally screwed because my small network of African American friends and family did not have the knowledge to help me.
No matter what you’re into there is a group you can join where you can post comments, ask questions, and/or offer or obtain suggestions. In most cases someone will get back to you pretty quickly. My two personal favorites are Google Groups and Yahoo! Groups. They both do basically the same thing. Some people prefer one or the other. I personally don’t care. I’m a huge fan of joining everything out there. You can never learn too much and networking is never a bad thing.
If the group you need does not exist already you can go ahead and create one. I’m not going to go into that but will talk about the importance of joining and creating groups. By creating new groups you have the ability to be the administrator, giving you access to everyone’s information and emails. If they join your group you can push appropriate information whenever you want. Just make sure it’s relevant to the group’s theme.
Ning.com is a good place to find people that are interested in the same things you are. It’s more of a community site than it is a generic group like Google or Yahoo!. Ning.com is feature rich and gives you way more freedom than any other group creation tool unless you know how to program HTML 5 ,PHP, and Java Script.
Back in the day Ning.com used to let you create your sites for free, but overtime it seemed not to be the best business model. So they started to charge everyone. It’s still a good deal if you can afford it or if you have an existing company or product.