October 15, 2007
We understand. You’re overwhelmed with nonstop technology and the avalanche of information options it bombards you with each and every day. You need help. As a customer-focused media company, Reeves Journal parent company BNP Media is committed to delivering information in ways that will make your job easier and more efficient. You can thrive by strategically managing how and when you receive information. Here are eight ways new media will transform your business during 2008:
1. Go Online for Training and Certification
Online training has come of age and keeps getting better. Early attempts at Webcasts and Webinars were clunky, strained affairs. Fuzzy images and lost connections were the norm. Today, high-speed connections, in-house projection, enhanced software, improved two-way communication, and experienced providers make Web-based training an engaging experience.
Got a question? Most Webinars allow you to submit questions and have them answered during a Q&A period. Want a video clip or additional information on the Webinar? Providers often include video links, which can be entertaining, and related Web sites so you can dig deeper. Need proof of participation to qualify for CEUs? You might need to take a short quiz, but many Webinars provide a link allowing you to print a course completion certificate.
Encouraging your staff to use Webcasts instead of eating up travel dollars will bolster your company’s bottom line while ratcheting up the level of training in which your employees can partake.
2. Use Online Communities to Obtain Real-Time, Real-Life Answers
Perhaps you’ve avoided places like YouTube, Internet message forums and social networking sites. Aren’t those for newbies, techies or people without lives? In some cases, that’s true. But for a growing number of business people, online communities are now an essential source of their business success.
A huge benefit provided by online communities is free access to people just like you who have already tackled your challenges. Whether you are fixing a broken part, launching an initiative or revolutionizing your company, someone is waiting to tell you how they succeeded at that task or which pitfalls to avoid. Many sites also offer video that shows you how to do it.
Another aspect of online communities is the ability to build your reputation. Community participants don’t want a sales pitch-that will quickly see you ostracized as a “spammer.” But others in the online community will come to respect you for providing useful information and solving problems. Respect translates into trust, and trust translates into opportunities for your company.
Find trustworthy business-related Internet message forums and other communal spaces that focus on your industry and allow you to interact with your peers. You’ll benefit by engaging with sharp-minded-and like-minded-participants.
3. Find Information With Lightning Speed
“Search Engine Optimization.” You may or may not have heard that term before. What you need to know about it, though, is that it’s Geekspeak for, “fast answers.” If you’re even a bit Web savvy, you’ve Googled something. But search results from Google, or the search engine of your choice, can be overwhelming when you pull up 101,234 results. A better option is vertical search: using the search functions of industry-specific Web sites. Niched sites are more targeted and eliminate fluff. Some, like BNP Media’s sites, license Google technology for speed but limit the search to a highly defined universe of data, making your search vastly more efficient.
Spend some time and visit the top Web sites in your field and bookmark those providing the best search results. You’ll save a ton of time.
4. Locate Products Quickly With Online Directories
Finding products poses a problem when you need specific items to complete a project. Online directories are a great solution. Most allow you to enter a company name, product category or a brand and then provide a defined list.
OK, you love your print directories. Why use an online directory?
Good question. Print directories remain excellent resources, but online directories can be updated daily. Online directories also include links to supplier Web sites, specification sheets, and even product videos. Print directories are great. Keep them handy, but be sure to always visit their online versions for even more updated and comprehensive information.
5. Read Breaking News
Staying informed has never been easier-whether you’re a leader in your industry, the CEO of your company or even if you’re a young up-and-comer working hard to earn your very own key to the executive washroom. The number of easily accessed resources at your disposal is endless.
Web sites: Some sites are updated daily, while others languish for weeks. Limit your visits to sites with frequent updates offering professional coverage of issues of interest to your business.
E-newsletters: Electronic newsletters offer a big advantage because they come to you. E-newsletters abound so focus on those that provide truly useful industry information.
RSS feeds: Real Simple Syndication is a way to assure you’re alerted whenever certain news breaks on the Web. RSS requires you to sign up for a reader and select the topics you want. Those articles collect until you access them.
The sheer amount of resources and information available can lead to overload. Make sure to focus your attention on the Web sites, E-news and RSS feeds that best meet your needs and unsubscribe to the rest.
6. Study In-depth Content For Personal Development and Strategic Planning
While the Web is fantastic for immediacy, it’s equally adept at providing content that will help you obtain comprehensive knowledge, perspective, and leadership skills.
Archived articles stored on industry Web sites allow concentrated study of a topic or in-depth analysis of an expert’s opinions. “White papers” allow you to read thoughtful analysis on new products and procedures, often complete with statistics and projections. Syndicated research can help you maintain a high level of expertise on a topic or industry, and provides insight for strategic planning.
Search Web sites for meaty data and expertise. If required, register to gain access to highly valuable information that others may miss.
7. Conduct Business Online
E-commerce is more than a buzzword. Many companies now require online purchase orders, applications, designs, specifications, bids, change-orders, credit checks, and payments. A recent survey conducted among subscribers to BNP Media publications showed that, while most all had company Web sites, only 30 percent allowed customers to place orders online.
Embrace this trend by becoming e-commerce savvy. Promote your company as Web-friendly, making sure your Web site is customer-driven, and you will be rewarded.
8. Buy the Right Technology Your staff may be clamoring for iPhones, Blackberries, Windows Vista, or other whiz-bang new technologies. While these products can enhance your company’s ability to receive and relay information, new technology produces a strain on resources. Your IT staff may require significant ramp-up time and your users will need training.
A good solution is to skip one or two generations of tech products, but commit fully when you do jump in. Having everyone using the same version of the same product enhances company-wide efficiency.