Tools for Personal Branding (3) – Choosing Your Sources

In the series about Personal Branding Tools up to this point, I have reviewed tools to scan news and to process it. The goal is to be very efficient, so you can absorb all relevant news in a very short time and be sure you have not missed anything. Tools like Google Reader enable you to reduce the volume of the fire hose of information that normally comes at you, by being selective about the sources and topics of information that you follow.

So the question is: how do you select the sources of information?

It is simpler than it may initially seem. As described by Malcolm Gladwell in “The Tipping Point”, more than 80% of the news and information is generated by fewer than 20% of the participants in any ecosystem. So you have to set out to find these content generators for your market niche.

Here are some ways to discover and build a list of the thought leaders and opinion makers in your selected niche:

  1. Check for books on your topic of interest on Amazon and note the names of the authors of the most popular books. Use Google to look up their names to see if they have a blog and subscribe to the RSS feed if they do (using Google Reader, see in the previous article for how to do that).
  2. Check for conferences about your topic of interest and note the names of the presenters. Find their blogs and subscribe to their RSS feeds.
  3. Create a List on Twitter for your area of interest. Use tools such as Tweetmeme, dailyRT or CrowdEye to discover who are the most influential voices about your topic on Twitter. Look them up on Twitter and add them to your Twitter List. Then use this RSS creator to turn the Twitter List into an RSS feed, and subscribe to it with Google Reader.
  4. Use BlogSearch at Google to search for blog postings about your topic. When you find entries from writers that cover your area of interest, subscribe to the RSS feeds on their blogs with Google Reader.
  5. You can create very detailed searches on Google News or on Google BlogSearch and subscribe to the RSS feeds of the results in your Google Reader.
  6. As you start following the selected group of sources, you will notice that they will link you to other sources, by referring to their blogposts and retweeting their Twitter postings. Add these folks to your Google Reader or Twitter list as the case may be.
  7. From time to time, review your list to see who can be removed. The goal is to process the news generated by this group as efficiently as possible, so if any source only posts entries that are of no value to you, remove that source.

There, you have done it. You have created the source list for information that you will review daily to be sure you are always well-informed.

At times the list grows because you encounter new valuable sources, but you should also make it a habit to cut back the list by removing less valuable sources.  You keep yourself focused by allowing yourself only a restricted amount of time per day to process the news – as soon as processing the amount of news starts exceeding your time limits, you should cut the source list back.

Notes:

  1. There are many more RSS-subscriptions that can be added to your Google Reader. Here are two examples:
    1. Google News
      Create a search in http://news.google.com and then add the RSS feed of that search to Google Reader
    2. Google Blog Search
      Create a search in http://blogsearch.google.com and then add the RSS feed of that search to Google Reader
  2. If you are unsure about the authority of a particular blog or other type of website, then there are various metrics that are helpful, such as Google Page Rank, the Alexa Traffic Rank, the number of Inbound Links, the number of Indexed Pages and more. Many free tools on the Internet give you insight into these numbers. Use them to get a feel for the relevance of the website that you want to add to your list of News Sources.
    1. Google Page Rank
      On a scale of 1 – 10, a ranking of the level of importance of a web page according to the Google Search Engine (10 being the highest level).
      Check it out at http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php:
      Google Page Rank
    2. Alexa Traffic Rank
      Every website on the internet gets ranked by Alexa, based on the measurement of all users using the Alexa toolbar. The highest traffic site is ranked nr 1. Check out the site at http://www.alexa.com:
      Alexa Traffic Ranking
    3. Inbound links and indexed pages can be checked with Yahoo Site Explorer at https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/:
      Yahoo Site Explorer
    4. Aggregate data about any website can be obtained with tools such as DomainTrust at http://www.submitawebsite.com/seo-tools/domain-trust.html:

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