A steady trickle of phone calls, e-mails, Tweets and Facebook messages have arrived from colleagues since the announcement of this award. And as I would expect from journalists, they have questions. “Are you leaving The Herald?” No, I’m doing this as a side project. “Have you considered Ning as a platform?” I haven’t thought too much about platforms yet, until I determine what information and features the site will have. “Do you need help with copy editing/Web development/writing?” Yes, yes and yes, thank you. “When you get rich, will you hire me.” We’ll see about that.

All of these questions are good ones—well, I’m pretty sure the last one was a joke. I’m lucky to have such smart friends and coworkers. But my first steps for this project involve a basic skill in journalism and business: networking. Beginning this week, I’m meeting with sources for some of the in-depth information about the Navy community that I hope to collect. I’m also meeting with members of the community I hope to serve. I want to tell them about my ideas and find out what they think would be most useful.

Networking for this project poses several challenges. Time and geography are the most basic. I’m squeezing in meetings and phone calls around my day job in Everett, and Puget Sound is a huge body of water, which makes travel tricky. The trip from Everett to Bremerton, for example, is 28 miles of driving and an hour-long ferry ride. Add in ferry waiting time and it can take more than two hours in one direction. The other major challenge is building on my existing relationships with official Navy sources and forging new relationships with people I hope to serve with the Northwest Navy News site. The approach to these relationships from both sides will change a little because I’m not working on behalf of an established news organization. It’s new territory for everyone involved, which makes it as exciting as it is challenging.

If you’re reading this post and you have a connection to the Puget Sound area’s military community, I’d love to hear from you. You can leave your comments here, send me an e-mail, @ me on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn or find me on Facebook. I need as many allies as possible.