There is almost too much information out there to sift through when planning to attack a new market or start a new venture. Your searching needs to be focused and wherever possible, you should avoid the temptation to buy data. Here are ten top tips:
1. Google - everyone uses search engines and Google is the most popular. However, try the 'advanced search' facility which enables you to use more search criteria to improve the quality of what comes back.
2. Check rivals - look at the sites of those you compete with. Register to receive their regular newsletter - let them tell you what they're up to!
3. Search people - searching the net for the people who run rival firms will often reveal details of their involvement in networks and trade bodies.
4. Read minutes - most public organisations publish meeting minutes on the web. This tells you who is saying what about the issues that effect you.
5. Learn techniques - there are some clever things you can do with '&' and other symbols.
6. Ask the obvious - if you want to know what a word means, type into the search engine the phrase 'xxxxx means', and you'll probably get a definition back.
7. Join a forum or newsgroup - these are popular at home as well as at work. Forums and user groups give you access to a community of people most likely to know the answers to your question. Ask people, as well as a search engine.
8. Numbers count - many people forget that search engines can search phone numbers. This is another good way of finding out what companies are involved with.
9. Go to university - you'll be amazed at how much new knowledge you can harvest from a university's website. Find the homepages of the academics researching your business sector. Most will have hyperlinks to papers they've written. Also visit University library sites, they're full of free information.
10. Check out books - the book reviews on sites such as Amazon often contain enough to inform you without the need to buy the book.
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