I have searched all over TechRepublic for a new user guide. I’m sure there’s one out there but I haven’t been able to find it so I decided to write my own. Hopefully, this introduction to the features of TechRepublic can be emailed or linked to an associate who knows nothing about why we spend so much time online here.

I write this from an quasi-outsider’s point of view. I’m not a TechRepublic employee. I am a contractor, paid to provide content. So yes, it will be a little biased, but I will try to be as objective as possible. Here are my top ten reasons for visiting TechRepublic and why I would encourage any tech professional to participate.

Top 10 reasons to visit TechRepublic

1. The stories – Nowhere else can you get the in-depth and behind the scenes stories on how technology is being used in the real world. These stories are written by tech pros. Most are writing about their first-hand experiences in rolling out new equipment. They share the successes and the failures of using the technology.

2. The forums – I almost rated this first on the list. One of the greatest hidden secrets of TechRepublic is the immediate access you can have to thousands of other tech professionals. Ask a question or start a discussion. Click on Hot Discussions to see where the action is and join right it. The topics and comments go all over.

3. The blogs – The top three are on the top for a reason. They are each excellent. I know how hard it can be to come up with interesting stuff every day. Jason and Toni and Bill do a great job of it. I recommend that the new visitor to TechRepublic read their blogs. Of course, you should also read my blog – Tech of all Trades.

4. The Newsletters – If you didn’t sign up to receive the email newsletters when you joined TechRepublic, you should. There is something for everyone – IT News, IT Management, Consulting, Networking, Servers – Windows and Linux, Desktop support, Database, Career Management, Development and several others.

5. The videos – These videos are new and already extremely popular. Jason presents news and happenings of the industry, Bill’s IT Dojo presentations are easy to follow techniques for doing tech better, and TR OutLoud has now moved from audio to video. The video features have added so much to the TechRepublic experience.

6. Webcasts – You get the notices in your emails every day if you subscribe to the newsletters. It can be difficult to fit them into your busy day when doing tech support or are up against a project deadline. But did you know that you can view these webcasts on demand? Browse through the content for a wealth of help.

7. White Papers – Doing research for a new tech project and need a better understanding of the issues involved? Check out the white papers. Yes, they are mostly written by vendors – software publishers and hardware manufacturers, but they can be invaluable in getting up to speed on the technology involved.

8. Job board – I’ll bet you didn’t know TechRepublic sponsored a job board, did you? There are hundreds of new jobs added daily. You can sort by category and by location to find that new job in your neck of the woods. I just looked and found dozens of IT Manager jobs within 25 miles of my hometown. Check it out.

9. Books and training – The store contains books, CDs, policy templates, and a flashdrive containing all kinds of goodies. Check out 500 things every tech professional needs to know. You’ve probably received catalogs from Global Knowledge in the mail. You can also check their course offerings online in the training section.

10. Downloads and photos – I can’t tell you how many 10 things lists I have downloaded and saved to my personal tech library. Click on the Most Popular tab and see if something interesting doesn’t jump out at you. Under photos, click on the More Photos link to get the complete list. Wow! What a selection of content.

TechRepublic is easy to use

Now that you’re gone through the list, you may be thinking to yourself, “Hey, that’s nothing more than a description of what each of the tabs on the TechRepublic site contains. Nobody needs an explanation on how to click on a tab.” True, but I’ll bet you clicked on some of the items in this list that you didn’t know about.

I conclude with this last piece of advice for new subscribers to TechRepublic. I don’t think new visitors feel comfortable enough to participate in the forums. I wish more people would take part and add their two cents. We have some great regular readers who never write anything. I invite you to join in and contribute your ideas.

Basic rules for successful forum navigation

All we ask is that you remember a couple of things: 1) Not everybody is at your level. If you are an expert in something, help out the new guy who is trying to get some task done for the boss breathing down his neck. 2) If you are new to technology, please let us know. We won’t jump all over you for asking dumb questions.

And finally, please give the writers of the essays some slack. While we are professionals ourselves, we don’t know everything. Sometimes we share ongoing dialogs of our experiences in implementing new technology. For example, as the Tech of all Trades, I am a generalist and use outside professionals for serious tech stuff.

Here’s to TechRepublic – coming up on ten years of providing great tech content for the tech professional.