Here’s the how-to:
You need a Google account, of course. If you have Gmail, then you already have a Google account. I love Google because of its simplicity, so the one sign in for all things Google is ideal for me.
Once you have your account set up, you can start finding people that have similar interests. To do this, use the Google search bar at the top of the home page. Type in “genealogy” then add those people to your circles.
Circles are groupings of people. You can group people into similar interest groups.
Genealogy, photography, writers, horse lovers, whatever you choose. No one can see what your circles are called, so make them user friendly for yourself.
The Google+ settings are more privacy friendly than Facebook. I can decide for each post who sees the information. I can choose to leave some people out (like my employer). Now you are ready to start posting. The nice thing about the genealogy piece is that most people use the Google+ platform to link to their blog posts, announce training they are running, webinars that are upcoming, and other things that are generally of interest. When you create a post, you choose at the bottom of the post WHO you are going to share the information with. If you want to speak with someone privately, just type their name in there rather than the name of the circle. This will still show up in your “stream” (the equivalent of a Facebook news feed) so you don’t have to go looking for the private conversation under some other tab or column. Do yourself a favour and DON’T check the box that offers for you to also share by e-mail since that essentially spams the same group of people. They will pick up your post in their stream. They don’t need it again in their already full inbox.
Google+ also has video-conferencing built in. These are called hangouts. They are really cool. I remember when this was first launched there was a record for the longest on air hangout. It went on for nearly 50 days! Hangouts are a great way to connect when people are co-presenting a webinar, organizing a conference or sharing family tree info on the same ancestors. The maximum number that can be in on a video hangout at one time is limited to 10. But the nice thing is it is free. And it has better connectivity, with less down time, than Skype. If you don’t use the video part, you can have up to 100 people. Free!
Since Google discontinued the use of Google Reader, the idea is for people to join Google+ and read blogs from the posts that are entered there. Google has also changed the way the page is laid out and it is now a double column screen. I personally find this more distracting making it harder to concentrate on one post at a time. My genealogy circle is now over 1200. Who would have thought?
Google+ is a great way to connect with other genealogists, to share ideas in more than 140 characters and without the ideas getting lost in Facebook drivel. Give it a try. Find me, circle me, add me to your genealogy circle. Make sure that you have "genealogy" in your profile and I will add you to my genealogy circle as well!