Now's the time to learn to navigate the Internet. The longer you postpone it, the more onerous it will seem.

"You'll be frustrated in the beginning," warns Seena Sharp, principal of Sharp Information Research, in Hermosa Beach, Calif. "You're going to be spending a lot of time figuring it out. You have to learn the shortcuts, and the only way to really learn is to do it." Experienced Internet users suggest you find a few informal consultants to help you learn how to use the Internet. Look for two kinds of people: technically advanced Internet users and colleagues who are passionate about your area of interest. The techies will save you time by briefing you on the latest advances. Tell them about your interests, and they'll keep you posted on what's new. Your second group of trainers includes people who need to know the same things you do, but who are already comfortable navigating the Net. Keep a list of current concerns, and whenever you get together with your "gurus," steer the conversation to answering your questions.

But you can take your first steps online by yourself: Read a book, take a class, or get a pal to guide you. Deborah Hollander Schwartz is a publicist with Jaffe Associates, in Washington, D.C. Her firm offers marketing and communications consulting to legal professionals. She found the perfect teacher--her 13-year-old son. And she paid him $10 an hour.