By Jo Gifford Career How to stay up to date with industry news by automating your research 29 Mar 2016 Automating your research is the most time-effective way to stay up to date with industry news, leaving much more room in your working day. Once upon a time, businesses would have to attend every conference, pore over every journal and resort to corporate espionage to really get to grips with what’s going on with our customers, our competitors and beyond. But with the power offered to us by the internet, and its wonderful range of free tools, that is no longer the case. We no longer have to hunt for data – we can make that information come to us. Getting all of this information in one place is the goal, so the first step is to set up this final destination. Google Drive, Quip or Dropbox are all good options, but for the purpose of this article, let’s use Evernote as the example. Use a bespoke email address With an Evernote account, you also get a new email address to send information that then gets filed as notes. Use that email address to sign up for any relevant newsletter and RSS feeds to keep them out of your inbox. To find this email address, open up Evernote, go into your “Settings”, and look next to the “Email notes to” tab. Alternatively, make sure any emails that come to your inbox from specific publications are tagged in your inbox automatically so you can access them later. Gmail makes this really easy to do. Set up Google Alerts Google Alerts enable you to monitor the internet for any mentions of a particular topic. Visit Google Alerts and type in and industry-specific key word, or the name of an organisation. Hit “Show options” to make your alerts as targeted as possible. You can amend the frequency of your updates, the sources of information to search through, and the geographic spread – all with the click of a button. Don’t forget to type in your Evernote email address rather than your usual work address, or to set up a smart filter in your inbox. Create targeted weekly digests If you follow any industry blogs and websites, Feedly is a fantastic way to organise and view new posts. Take it a step further by automating a weekly digest with IFTTT (a free app to trigger automation). IFTTT is also linked to a series of publications including the New York Times, People Magazine and InStyle. Use these to automate a weekly email (to Evernote) digest of news updates relevant to your business. Collect relevant tweets IFTTT can also be used to collate the social media updates worth seeing. In this day and age, most industry conferences and events will have their own special hashtags. Create a recipe that sends any tweet using that hashtag to a clean note of your choosing. You can also use this function to create a Twitter list automatically, making it easier to follow relevant subjects and conversations. Monitor competitor websites VisualPing.io can monitor any website for even the smallest change. Use this to your advantage, and make sure you know what your competitors are up to. All you need to do is visit the page, paste in the URL of the site you’d like to monitor, then amend the “check interval” to weekly, and “on” to the type of change you’re interested in (these vary from small tweaks, to major amendments – it depends what you’re looking for. Then all that’s left to do is add your email address. If you’re monitoring more than one company, I’d recommend setting up a notebook for each, to make filing and retrieving simpler. Keep an eye on innovation Monitoring innovative and up and coming ideas is a fantastic way of staying abreast of any changes (or opportunities) in your industry. Collating current crowdfunding projects from your sector is a super simple place to start. Use IFTTT to send relevant Kickstarters to a specific Evernote file. You can do this by using the Kickstarter RSS feed and making a recipe to file the updates. Example URL to use for recipe – http://www.kicktraq.com/categories/technology/latest.rss With tech doing the heavy lifting for you, research can become a breeze. Once you start to implement a few techniques and recipes, and become used to your workflow, you can experiment with more and more. Jo Gifford mentors solopreneurs to tell their business story online and to work in smarter, creative ways on www.dexterousdiva.co.uk.