Now let's examine three common methods that you can use within My developerWorks to directly connect with other members:
The first method we will cover is the most important... the peer to peer connection. One of the key benefits of making a colleague connection within our community is the ability to follow the activity of this colleague. But we also built another key feature into colleagues, and that is the ability to contact a colleague through their e-mail.
To add a member as a colleague, you simply click the "Add to My Colleagues" link from that members profile:
Once you have added a member as a colleague, this link will change to "Message colleague".
Clicking on the "Message colleague" link will pop-up a rich text editor where you can type a message or insert graphics to share with your colleague. This message is then sent to your colleagues e-mail address. Within the message, we automatically add a "Reply" link, which allows a colleague to respond to the sent notification... all while keeping both of your e-mail addresses completely anonymous.
The second method to message your peers is found within My Groups. After you join a group, you can message the entire membership of that group via the "Mail Group" feature. Using this function, you can notify the entire group or just the group owners. Again, this will result in an e-mail notification to the group members.
The last method I will cover is the ability to notify members of a blog entry. Many times, we come across a blog entry that we would like to share with others. To do this use the "Notify other users" function, that is found under "More Actions" at the bottom of each blog entry.
As you can see.. to get the value out of notifications, you will need to provide a valid e-mail address in your My developerWorks profile. Additionally, a complete and up to date profile is important, as this is the compelling information that drives members to colleague each other.
As we plan the next release of My developerWorks, the capabilities to message / notify / and follow others will be greatly enhanced. However, two key factors to getting the most out of these functions will remain constant: A complete profile and a valid e-mail address.