Info-entrepreneurs, represented by the Association of Independent Information Professionals, stand out as innovative, forward thinking, and client focused information professionals. This series of posts delivers future ready solutions and strategies from current and past presidents of AIIP. As industry thought leaders they have much to share about staying ahead of the curve and delivering cost effective solutions to clients worldwide. In this insightful series of postings readers will learn how to create a job for life by listening for opportunity, watching for changes, stretching to acquire new skills, finding a balance, planning for the long term, and drawing on your strengths. — C.S.
by Cindy Shamel
My livelihood depends upon successfully engaging a target market willing to pay cash money for my products and services. Today I have an established client base, but sustainability requires strategic and ongoing monitoring looking for gaps and opportunities. To maintain or increase revenue, I systematically seek to balance my client base with the proper mix of products and services. Sometimes this means identifying a new target market to serve with existing services. Other times it means developing new products or services for an existing clientele.
How do you identify new target markets or services to offer? Track, watch, lurk, and pay attention. As Susanne Bjorner suggested in yesterday’s blog post, insight often “comes when observing an activity, industry, or practice far removed from the area we are working in.” Here are a few of the resources I use to keep the ideas flowing.
Track the Trends – It Keeps You Ahead of the Game
Follow ReadWriteWeb for insight and analysis about the internet industry. Launched in 2003, RWW has become “one of the most popular technology blogs in the world.” Reading this blog regularly could help you manage client expectations, develop new products or services, and anticipate the “next big thing.”
MarketingProfs delivers a range of marketing resources including five articles each week written by experts from all across the marketing field. The site offers case studies, how-to articles, guides and reports. This site helps me stay on top of marketing trends and tools.
Watch for Weirdness – It Helps You Think Laterally
Boing Boing delivers a steady stream of pointers and stories about technology, gadgets, science, business, and at their own admission, weirdness. Boing Boing offers up a world outside the information profession, helping to trigger new ideas.
Lifehacker offers “tips, tricks, and downloads for getting things done.” You never know what kind of work related idea might spring from a Lifehacker tip or trick. Keep an open mind. Recent postings included “Ask a dumb question to spark a conversation with a stranger” and “The best web browser for Android.” Surely I need not elaborate on the value here.
Lurk on LinkedIn – It Facilitates Learning from Others
What are your LinkedIn connections saying? Find out by going to your LinkedIn Home page. One of my connections just posted something about 70,000 students flocking to a free online course in artificial intelligence. Do I need to offer online training? Are students a good target market? Should I start paying attention to artificial intelligence? Maybe.
Are there LinkedIn Groups with members who might shed light on my clients, products, or services? No doubt. One of my “industries of interest” has a group with over 25,000 members. Hmmm, better check the buzz and see what they’re saying.
Pay Attention to Your Peers – It Provides Food for Thought
Stephen’s Lighthouse by Stephen Abram provides stimulating and innovative thinking in matters related to the information industry. As the tagline says, “Illuminating library industry trends, innovation and information.” Stephen’s blog includes lots of graphics, embedded videos, news, polls, and no end of content to get you thinking.
Phil Bradley’s Weblog, coming out of the UK, presents information from another perspective. Phil says his weblog is where librarians and the internet meet. A recent posting included something about Easy Notecards, a free educational tool for students and teachers to create, study, print and share interactive note cards. Hmmm, that gives me an idea. Gotta run!
Cindy Shamel has operated a business providing information services since 1998. She served the Association of Independent Information Professionals as president in 2003-2004 and the San Diego Chapter of SLA in 2009. In 2006 AIIP awarded her the Sue Rugge Memorial Award for mentoring.