I can’t stress the importance getting out on there and contacting other researcher, via message boards, people that have posted their genealogy to the Internet, etc… But to avoid spammer you may want to get another email address because the spam bots are out there reading email address that have been posted to the web.
There are many free places out there to get emails but it can be rather tiring always checking them just to find nothing. The way I handle this is using the instant messaging programs that are also offered with them. Myself I use a free program called Pidgin http://pidgin.im/ , it capable of connecting with AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, XMPP, ICQ, IRC, SILC, SIP/SIMPLE, Novell GroupWise, Lotus Sametime, Bonjour, Zephyr, MySpaceIM, Gadu-Gadu, and QQ all at once. It will notify me when an email comes in & will give me the sender’s name & subject of the message. The disadvantage to this program is no voice or video chatting. But what I like the best is it doesn’t change or add things to my browser, you can choose to have it load at boot up or manually load it, and I can several identities on one mail server.
Now you may want to scan and organize your pictures and documents because they are great things to trade with, and people will go more out of their way getting you information if you give them something they don’t have.
When first starting out Surname message boards are good, but I have more success with county & religious message boards. County histories & Church records are wonderful in your research.
A good thing to remember what goes around comes around. So find out what local resources are available to you and volunteer to help other via message boards and lookup services like www.raogk.org and www.usgenweb.org county sites.