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Last updated on 11/28/19

Develop your information network

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Now you’ve identified the skills you’re lacking, you’re ready for step 2 of your monitoring system: developing your information network.

Social networks, traditional media, free online courses, video tutorials, and webinars can all keep you informed of new knowledge and industry innovation. Which means tapping into these free online resources and learning how to use them well is a quick win.

But with so many possibilities to choose from, how do you know which ones to use? And how do you stay on top of them all?

Choose social networks carefully

From Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn, Instagram, or Pinterest, social networks encourage interaction. Their purpose is to share information, news, or opinions and start conversations.

This is why they’re such excellent networking tools. You may already have personal social network accounts, but establishing a professional presence is essential as a monitoring tool.

Facebook

Has the largest reach: 1.23 billion followers, many of whom are generally older than on other social media (ages range from late 30s to 70s).

Instagram

For lifestyle industries such as fashion, travel, food, design, interiors. Any industries that rely on visuals.

LinkedIn

Human resources, employment, etc. Also good for posting work-related articles and finding industry figures.

Twitter

Good all-arounder. Enables you to engage with industry leaders and initiate and take part in important or topical conversations.

YouTube

To find video content on just about everything. Especially good for free ‘how to’ and educational content.

However, for monitoring purposes, one of the best all-around social network tools is this one:

Twitter logo
If you only have time to manage one account, choose Twitter.

It’s mostly open so you can follow almost anyone (unless they’ve set up a private account), from individuals to companies. You can also search for trending topics, which means you can easily find and hear from thought leaders and influencers on a limitless number of themes and specialisms.

It’s also brief (280 characters!), so can be quicker and easier to manage than other forums.
However, always aim to be consistent and coherent with your content.

Check out Technology for Teachers and Students’ video for advanced tips on using Twitter for professional development.

Follow people in your field

Once you’ve set up your social media accounts, search for people, companies or topics to follow. Follow colleagues and ex-colleagues and any person or company you find interesting or informative. As you build your online presence and people you follow, you’ll also gain followers of your own.

In fact, any company, celebrity, politician, or company director you find interesting should form part of your professional network.

Think online and offline

Developing a network to help you monitor new developments means more than just signing up to a few social networks. You should also see it as an exchange of information from wider sources or industries. There are numerous other online and offline sources of information and education you should tap into. Here are some good starting points:

Newspapers

From Pulitzer prize winners to influential thought leaders the following newspapers boast some of the best writers in the world. They’re available both on and offline and some are subscription-based.

Here are some relevant examples of newspapers that can be used in your monitoring strategy:

Blogs

For more in-depth analysis, you can probably find a blog on the subject. Search for experts or thought leaders by name, or browse themes. Ask for recommendations on social media or use The Blog Search Engine to search for content.

Video/podcast

Video and podcast content are great because they’re usually free. YouTube and Vimeo offer thousands of educational and instructional videos. If you prefer audio content, fear not 😄 ! You can subscribe and listen to thousands of free podcasts while you’re on the move through iTunes or GooglePlay.

Conferences

Get access to cutting-edge national and international conferences on an endless range of topics at:

TED logo

TED posts innovative talks online on a variety of topics

Meetup logo

Meetup allows you to attend in-person events gathering people with similar interests

Places dedicated to innovation or experimentation

Check out university research in areas relevant to your industry (d.School at Stanford and LSE, are a couple of examples). Universities are at the cutting edge of research and development. The British Library is a fantastic resource for research papers.

Companies/startups

Stay tuned to the activities of established companies as well as innovative startups. What are they working on or launching? What’s the buzz around them? Follow them on social media, comment on, or share their posts.

MOOCs

Learn new skills from the comfort of your own home with a MOOC (a massive open online course). Like this one! 😊New courses are added almost daily and many are free.

Webinars

Search online for webinars hosted by organisations that interest you. Follow Publishers Weekly, The Bookseller, or other specialist publications for news on new books.

The thought of wading through all this information probably seems overwhelming.

But don’t let that put you off, you can optimize the time you spend online – and even reduce it to just a few minutes a day – if you’re savvy about the way you monitor information on the internet.

Organise your information

There are three ways to do this.

Like and follow

‘Follow’ important users on Twitter.
‘Follow’ important users on Twitter
‘Like’ the various groups or pages that interest you on Facebook
‘Like’ the various groups or pages that interest you on Facebook

‘Follow’ important users on Twitter, whenever they post or tweet you’ll see their updates on your news feeds.

Subscribe

Feeling a little nostalgic about daily print newspapers and magazines? Then turn to digital alternatives with an online subscription, that will automatically filter through the information you’re looking for. You can also sign up for e-newsletters from bloggers and other online media outlets.

Curate content

Curate the content you receive by setting up a personalized news feed. This allows you to gather content automatically and view it all in one place each day.

Set up your own personalized news feed with Feedly. With this tool, you can bring together many diverse sources (such as Facebook, blogs, online newspapers or videos for example) in one simplified platform, limiting the time you spend searching for content. See how to do this in the video below.

Another tool that helps you search for content is Google Alerts. You can even set it up so that any number of alerts can be sent to you in just one email.

Create alerts for people, companies, or topics. Then choose your sources of information, how often you receive them, from what regions, and in what language by clicking the ‘Show options’ button.

Finally, you can pool all the information you’ve researched in an online newspaper. Paper.Li is a content curation tool that lets you find, publish, and promote engaging articles, photos, and videos from across the web.

Over time, you’ll begin to refine your personal feed based on the sources that deliver the most relevant and quality information. This will begin to add value to your daily feed.

Let's recap

  • Choose your social networks wisely by selecting only those that fit your needs. 

  • Develop your network and follow people that you find interesting or would like to talk to. 

  • Consider alternating between online and offline sources of information.

  • Keep your information flow clear and organized to save time and only expose yourself to relevant information. 

So now you’ve organized your content what should you do with it? This is the last step of your monitoring strategy, which we’ll explore in the final chapter.

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement