The Internet (Part II)
How to get Started
There are three major steps to effective Internet usage:
1. Get connected to the net
2. Learn to use the net ("surf" the net)
3. Create your own presence on the net
Getting Connected. There are four major ways to connect to the Internet:
1. Your own connection.
This is not for the small business. This approach requires lots
of expensive equipment and expertise.
2. Visit a library.
This is a neat way to try out the net without spending any money.
Many large libraries now have one or more computers connected to
the Internet that may be used by visitors. You obviously can't use
this approach for your business, but it's a great way to familiarize
yourself with the internet and see what this tool might mean to
you and your business.
3. Use a commercial service.
The commercial services such as America-On-Line and CompuServe
provide some form of Internet access. The good news is that this
approach is an easy and quick way to get on the net. However, in
some cases, Internet access is limited in various ways and you can
expect to pay more than with an independent Internet provider service.
Furthermore, some of the internet "tools" provided by
these services are not as good as what you can obtain free from
other sources over the Internet.
4. An Independent Internet provider.
This is my preferred approach. It is easy to find a local "access
provider" and get an "Internet account" which allows
you to connect into the Internet. One way to find these providers
is to check in the business section of your local newspaper. Cost
is around $12-$20/month which will give you unlimited access. More
good news: Required software for your computer is generally free
or very low cost shareware available from the provider (or you can
download it from various hosts with help from your provider).
There are different types of Internet accounts that provide various
levels of service. Suffice it to say here that you will need a "dial-in
PPP" account which will allow you to take full advantage of
the Internet at a low cost. (PPP stands for Point-to-Point Protocol)
Be careful when selecting your Internet provider since many are
coming in existence to support the demand. Some are good, some are
not. Use the following checklist to help in making your selection.
o How long has the provider been in operation? (1 year minimum)
o Are an adequate number of telephone lines are available to ensure
you will not receive a busy-signal when attempting to connect?
o Is a local access telephone number available? (You don't want
to incur long-distance charges since you will find that you're spending
o Are personalized E-mail addresses available? You want this for
identification. It is your "name" on the Internet. For
example, my Internet E-mail address is "firstname.lastname@example.org. "bobs"
is what I've chosen for my "name," "isquare"
is the name of the node of my Internet service provider, and "com"
indicates a commercial account.
o Will software be provided? (It usually is).
o Are there any restrictions on doing business?
o Is technical help available? During what times? (This assistance
should be free.)
o What services are offered? You must have E-mail and FTP at a minimum.
Will the provider be able to support your "home page"
when you're ready? (more on this below).
Learn to use the Internet.
At this point a lot of what you have read in this section may be
confusing but believe me, once you get connected and start using
the various tools we've described, everything will start to make
When you are up and running on the Internet, start looking around
on the WWW (called "surfing the net") and get familiar
with what's there. You will quickly be amazed at what is available
and the possibilities.
Create your own presence on the net
Using the Internet to advertise your product or service is considerably
different than traditional sales and promotional techniques. You
must stand out in a crowd of millions! To do so requires you to
carefully think through your strategy to ensure whatever you place
on the Internet is very unique and interesting.
When using the net to advertise, and again contrary to the traditional,
you must "give to the net" as well as utilize its capabilities.
In other words, your advertising must also provide useful information
to the reader. Also note that the major unwritten rule for advertising
on the Internet is to NEVER send unsolicited information to specific
The form of your presence on the net is dependent on your business
goals and marketing specifics. In any case, I strongly suggest you
learn more about the Internet and see how it might fit into your