Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Stay in the Know

Staying on top of news and trends that can impact your business is vital.  It can be hard to keep a pulse on the latest happenings when your nose is to the grind stone getting things done.  Here are some tips on how to stay in the know and still accomplish your daily to-dos.

Info Sources
Endlessly searching for information can waste a lot of time and go no where fast. Securing trusted sources of industry information is the key to success. All industries have targeted publications, associations, various blogs and informational sites. Get connected. Sign up for emails, magazines, or RSS feeds.  Set up Google Alerts are key topics, competitors, or industry terms. These alerts send emails directly when these key words are indexed by Google. Tap your LinkedIn profile and join industry groups. Set up automated email alerts for new postings and actively participate in these communities.  Most participants are willing to share when you get involved.

Now that you have all these great sources of data how do you handle it all? The trick is keeping organized.  For emails and RSS feeds set up rules in your email to automatically move things to pre-assigned folders.  This saves you time spending all day sorting your email alerts and keeps the info in one place.  Sort your direct mail and segment your industry publications separate from day to day correspondence in their own tray or folder.

Time Management
Of course the question on every one's mind is when do you have time to go through this info. The answer is you make time.  It is easier to do than you think.  Have a quick 10 minutes before your next meeting? Open up your industry email folder and scan through ones you feel are of interest or open up that industry magazine and mark articles worth diving into.  Set aside some time early in the morning or before you head out the door in the evening and go through your news sources.  The more you do this the better you will become at scanning headlines to weed out the fluff and get at the valuable data efficiently.

Now that you marked what you feel is important and before you close the email or toss the publication make a decision on what you are going to do with it, who is involved, and when you will do it by. This is an essential step or you wind up with piles that you never tackle. Ask yourself is this share worthy and if so who is the appropriate audience? Is this info actionable and what are my recommended steps? Then take the 2 minutes to share the the info via an email or memo or keep a running list of info to share in a monthly or bi-weekly meeting. 

Make this a daily habit and the system will flow. It will become second nature. You will be on top of your game and in the know!