8 Q&A Sites Where You Can Share Information and Gain Professional Credibility
User-generated question and answer sites provide a great opportunity for you to gain credibility in your particular field. All that you need to do is to become an active user on these sites, answering questions related to your industry. Of course, you need to make sure that you answer the questions fully, completely and correctly if you want credibility in the industry. And you want to make sure that you stick to answering only questions in the specific area that you want to be known as an “expert” in. If you do those things then you can successfully utilize these sites to your benefit. And just what sites should you be using?
Here are eight Q&A sites that you might want to explore if you’re interested in gaining professional credibility by answering questions in your field that are posed by Internet users.
1. Aardvark. This is a subsidiary of Google that combines the traditional nature of a basic Q&A site with the trend to make all sites more social. Basically it connects you to friends and friends’ friends so that you can ask them questions and then can provide you with answers. Likewise, you can answer your questions. If you carefully put together your set of Aardvark connections in a manner that connects you to relevant people in your industry then this can be a powerful tool for building credibility for yourself.
2. Answerbag. This is one of the oldest still-running Q&A sites online and also one of the best examples of a traditional Q&A format. Basically this means that people submit questions that anyone can answer. Users can rate those answers so that people can easily see which answers are considered to be the “best” by the community. Frequently getting rated high on the questions you answer in your industry can be a benefit on this popular site.
3. ChaCha. This is a Q&A site that is different from the others in that you have to sign up to be a guide that answers questions from users. (Most sites allow anyone to sign up and answer questions). This adds some credibility for those people who do get selected to be ChaCha guides. And you can actually earn a small amount of money for your efforts on this site if you are selected as a Guide, which is a nice bonus in addition to establishing yourself as a credible resource for answers in a specific industry.
4. Focus. Another site that operates in a manner similar to ChaCha is Focus (in that you have to apply to be an a question-answering Expert on the site). However, Focus tends to be stronger for business-oriented people because it is specifically designed to connect professionals in the business world. This can make it a good site for some people but of less interest to others depending on the nature of your own industry.
5. LinkedIn Answers. LinkedIn is known best as a professional social networking group but it does have a Q&A section. It is more beneficial to some industries than others because people are asking more question in those industries (such as real estate and technology fields). The best way to use this site is in a manner similar to Aardvark – by putting together a strong set of LinkedIn connections relevant to your industry and then providing great answers to their questions on the site.
6. Namesake. This is one of the newest sites in this area of communication. Their goal is to connect people through conversation in order to build trust between people online. It seems like a combination of the social sites (like LinkedIn) and the “expert” sites (like Focus). It’ll be interesting to see how this one develops and it could be an asset to you to get in on the ground floor of it.
7. Quora. This is currently the hottest site in the Q&A website industry. It launched in beta in 2009 and only went public in the summer of 2010 but it has gained a huge following in that time. That means that this is where a lot of people are going to get answers and therefore it’s likely to be one of the sites that you want to be active on. This site is interesting because in some ways it is like a traditional Q&A site but in other ways it’s more like a Wikipedia-style collection of information on topics. Keep your eye on this as a useful tool!
8. Yahoo! Answers. There are pros and cons to using Yahoo! Answers to answer questions from other users. This is one of the most frequently used sites, which means that there are almost always fresh questions to answer in nearly any field. The drawback of the site’s popularity, though, is that there are a lot of other people who are using it, often asking questions that aren’t actually very good questions. To use this site well you’ll want to make sure that you are discerning in the questions that you answer. Also, many people make the mistake of thinking that they can slack a little bit in answering questions on this site since there are so many other “bad” answers on the site but the opposite is actually true. You should go above and beyond to create a best answer for all of the questions that you answer so that you can stand out as a credible voice in a sea of answers that may not be credible at all.
What is your favorite Q&A site to answer questions on in order to gain credibility in your industry? Share your answer in the comments to help others who aren’t as skilled at it as you are!