In business the most valuable tool you possess is the ability to gather information. You’re constantly on the lookout for insights on industry trends, competitor actions, economic forces, key supplier grumblings, and most importantly what job(s) your idea customer needs done.
Good insights are worth their weight in gold, but bad information can be deadly. Actions predicated on it waste not only money (salaries, prototype expenses, misdirected marketing efforts, etc.) but more importantly can tank professional relationships and your business’ reputation.;
But how do you avoid being burned from unreliable information?
Think like a reporter.
They aren’t compensated for finding the story but for verifying to the best of their ability all sources and ensuring that the information they’re using to weave the full story is authentic before it hits the light of day. Unfortunately for most, but great for those who excel at it, evaluating the reliability of information is an art as well as work – much of which is detective work.
Here are three ways that you can find key data/proof points that support your primary research.
Climb to the mountaintop. Confirm your information with a 3rd party. Seek out 2 to 3 experts to cross verify the information. These could be individuals who are deeply familiar with an area like the targeted market, industry economics, or the particular company.
Dig for details. Ask pointed follow-up questions, not only to your source but also to the world. Tap into the knowledge of the collective by utilize tools such as Twitter and LinkedIn to push a specific question to a knowledgeable sub-set of your connections. Granted individual data that comes from ‘crowdsourcing’ has its own creditability issues, but widespread beliefs can verify trends and core issues.
Extrapolate upon existing creditable sources. Utilize sources of secondary information, the main providers of which are governments, trade associations, academic institutions, research houses, and national & international institutions.
Do you agree? What other methods can you add to our knowledgebase?