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Using Google Alerts and Other Tools to Get a Better View of Your Job, Industry and Ecosystem

© Austin Ban, austinban.com

In our last post, we discussed a number of tools for receiving email alerts about different keywords.

The most well-known of these is probably Google Alerts, which recently underwent a nice new redesign. Whether you’re using Google Alerts or an another tool, this post describes some smart ways that alerts tools can be helpful in getting you important news and information at work.

(For more on this topic, check out our post on getting the best industry news digests.)

Monitoring Your Name

This one may seem obvious, but using alerts to track mentions of your name online can help you in several ways.

First, if you’re a public figure who can be cited or quoted in the media, this helps you stay on top of mentions.

Second, if your name is being used somewhere without your knowledge, it’s a safety measure to make sure this is being done appropriately.

Third, setting a web alert (instead of a news alert) can help you track if any apps or tools you’ve registered for have created a public profile page without your knowledge.

Since many employers and potential employers track these things, staying aware of your online persona is an important professional task.

Monitoring Your Brand/Company Name

Nowadays, the ease of accessing relevant information makes it mandatory to have a solid sense of the major stories and events impacting your brand or company.

If you’re in public relations, business development or marketing, having a clear sense of how your company is being talked about online is crucial to your day-to-day. But even if your role isn’t primarily focused on such things, having some solid awareness of what’s happening with your company publicly can position you as a savvier professional in your role or team.

Monitoring Your Team

For those working at more senior levels, it’s very important to have your finger on the pulse of your company, especially within your department.

Not knowing when and what is being said by or about those you work with can be a professional liability. I’ve held roles in which multiple people on my team were being quoted in the press on any given day. 

Creating alerts with the names of your public-facing team-mates is an easy way to make sure you’re aware of any key media mentions.

Monitoring Key Executives

As with your team, it’s important to be aware of what leaders at your employer are saying and doing publicly, especially if you work for a large, fast-moving company.

Stories abound of people learning about new product launches, business plans, hires, departures, and other important company news in the press before they hear about it internally. While this isn’t a best practice in internal communication, having news alerts set up can help you know what’s happening. And as you seek to grow professionally and advance your career, knowing what’s important to key executives can help you by having the right frame on your own priorities, or just to make relevant conversation when the opportunity arises.

Monitoring Competitors

It’s not enough to simply know your own company’s product or service these days. Knowing what’s happening with your key competitors, and their own products or services, is important for understanding the broader market and how your company exists within it.

Having insights about what’s being said about your competitors can help inform discussions about business strategy, product development, marketing, customer support, or sales. In fact, virtually any role can benefit by having competitive intelligence alerts set up.

You may even want to include key executives at competitors among your alerts, since they are most often the public voices of their companies and will hint at new products or initiatives to be aware of.

Monitoring Key Vocabulary, Ideas, and Trends

If you work in a fast-moving industry like technology, private equity/venture capital, or consulting, it’s often important to keep tabs on popular nomenclature or new ideas and trends that are shaping your field.

For example, companies in your ecosystem might be known by broader names, like the “Big 4” accounting firms or “Sand Hill Road” venture capital firms. Technology trends like the shift to cloud computing, “enterprise social” or “last mile delivery” can help pinpoint the specific things you’re working on in a more relevant context.

Thinking broadly about the buzzwords and trends impacting your role or company and setting up alerts around them can help you easily create a steady stream of helpful coverage.

Monitoring Your Industry

At an even broader level, it’s often important to think of your industry as a whole and the key people, events, trade groups, institutions and laws that help shape it.

Do you work in a heavily regulated industry like financial services? Keeping alerts for the names of the commissioners or chairs of your relevant regulators can help you stay better informed about new developments.

Do you work in a technology driven sector, like e-commerce? Think about the key things that happen periodically that are good to know about in advance, like the impending release of Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report.

Perhaps there are a few major conferences that are must-attend events, trade associations that your company is active with, or professional organizations that you belong to. Whatever the case, creating alerts about these terms can help you keep better tabs on them.

Monitoring Your Mentors and Role Models

As our careers progress, we sometimes lose touch with key bosses or mentors that helped coach or guide us to the next level.

Keeping in contact with these people can be a great way to foster your professional network, keep abreast of new opportunities, or just continue learning from someone with more experience.

If they are people who periodically appear in the press, creating a news alert for their names is a great way to remind yourself to keep in touch.

Similarly, many of us follow industry leaders on social media, subscribe to their blogs, or have read their books. As we forge our careers, we often look to them as sources of inspiration. Creating alerts with the names of these professional role models can help surface new content about them or even opportunities to connect.

Either way, keeping a regular stream of professional inspiration in your inbox can be a helpful motivator.

Do you have any other suggestions for using alerts to get useful information for your job? I’d love to hear from you: nat@getwiser.com.

Nathaniel Emodi heads up business development at Wiser, the social newsreader for business teams, companies and organizations.