10 Steps to Research or Google a Topic

Technology changes very rapidly and You often need to upgrade Your Knowledge and Skills in a jiffy. Teach Yourself how to Research using the Internet and You Acquire not just a Professional Skill but a Life Enriching Skill.

In a fast-paced industry like the communications and information technology, a manager needs to keep himself updated about the latest happenings in the world around him. When you publish an Ezine or contribute articles, often you face “writer’s block“. The next step would be to contribute towards some innovative and creative solutions to gather material for your next article.

Let us start with keeping yourself abreast of latest technology and market trends (or any topic of research):

1. First select the domain area you would like to research.

Your organization would define the core competencies on which it will concentrate for the coming year. Also the new areas of work, which can be taken up in that domain. This could help you select the domain You could visit the web sites of famous magazines and publications in your domain and see on what topics the articles and discussions are being held. What inter-op is going on in the world? What are the topics being discussed in international conferences and


2. Get the key word set for the area under consideration.

First start with one key word. With Google get the first page of hits.
Read in detail the ones, which relate to famous companies. When you read the whole article you will notice a few more new words, which will help you, narrow down the search to the sub-category in the area in which you want to get updated.
The main point here is NOT to go beyond the first page of Google till you get the set of key-words which narrows down your search to the sub-category in which you are interested.
Gather the URLs into a MS Word document or a mail to yourself. This is especially helpful if you are hard pressed for time at the moment.


3. Use Google extensively

(where {KWx} stands for the set of key words)
Search for:

  • {KWx} Newsletters
  • {KWx} conferences seminars
  • {KWx} standards

If you prefer to read printed material, use phrases:
Search for:

  • {KWx} magazines,
  • {KWx} Brouchers


4. Multiple un-related domain /areas of interest? Like Finance, Sales and VoIP?

Subscribe to the Newsletters and email updates at different free mailing addresses.
Allocate a fixed day of the week for each topic. You can give more days to domains that u are more interested in eg. VoIP on Mon, Tues, Fri; Finance on Wed; Sales on Thursday.
Visit the respective mailbox and read the material.


5. Find out the list of top 5 or 10 products in that domain.

Study the total offering made by these customers. Get the press-room updates of these companies.


6. Track the market trends of these products and issues faced; inter-op test results help.


7. Keep your notes & synopsis of the material that you read.

Record the information into MS Word documents.
The trick here is read some 6 or 7 URLs information and combine it into one Word document. If you do this in a focused way and create good sub-categories, then it is a very helpful database for your future reference.

e.g. VoIP deployments; VoIP Issues; VoIP applications, VoIP products; VoIP terminals; VoIP inter-op could be a few Word files which get created. U can even narrow it down by replacing VoIP by SIP in the above list of sub categories.

Remember that you should record the URLs whenever you take a small paragraph out of the whole web page for your synopsis. This will help you to go back & reference the total article when you need to do so. From day one, start creating the presentation material which you will use to share your learnings with others esp. cut & paste the diagrams – really good ones straight into MS PowerPoint.


8. Involve some peers and friends in this learning activity.

Discussions and a few ‘domain-related’ chat sessions will go a long way in reinforcing what you have read. Internal mailing lists made available thru the company intranet would be of great help.


9. Convince your supervisor that you can run a small learning, exploring project in that technology.

The best way to learn is thru doing. Moreover when a team of 2 people gets together, synergy comes into play. Remember to state a clear Return On Investment (ROI) verifiable objective for the project and concrete end criteria. In case you want to swallow an elephant, do define the small chunks that allow you to define phases for the project. Doing R&D is good but directed and results-showing R&D is better!


10. Share your findings and learnings with others.

You get known as an expert and by answering the queries and doubts of others you DO become an expert! Your project case study will embolden others to repeat your success and the learning organization starts to breathe – from the grass roots!