Online, I spend time listening, attempting to separate signal from noise.
This started when I was in high school. Occasionally, I would egosurf, or search for my name on the Web. After college, when I began to use a feed reader, my listening became more routine. I could search and quickly add that search to my reader. Then, I could be lazy and forgetful--available stories were brought to me on demand. I didn't have to remember to go and find them.
Slowly, I broadened the topics that I listened for, amazed that I could track what's important and not become overwhelmed. Hitting "Mark All As Read" in a reader is much, much easier than declaring e-mail bankruptcy.
Currently, I listen for information about several specific areas:
me, Technola, Pro Bono Net, document assembly, and access to justice (legal aid, pro bono legal services, Legal Services Corporation,
and so on). Over time, I've changed these areas, refined the key words
and phrases that I listen for, and pulled in new sources as they've
surfaced, like Twitter and LexMonitor.
Listening helps me to stay informed. I often "hear" things that I wouldn't otherwise. Listening also gives me the opportunity to observe and participate in conversations that don't, and won't, happen in my offline life. Laura Quinn, Michelle Murrain, and Holly Ross are not going to show up at my house and talk nptech. But they do talk online, and I can meet up with them there. Listening helps me figure out where those good conversations are happening.
Do you listen online? If not, I challenge you to start listening today. Just follow these steps:
- Go to Google's Blog Search.
- Search for your name or your organization's name.
- Check out the results.
- Refine your search terms, if necessary.
Do this to make certain you are getting relevant results. For example, I don't have a very common name, so I use (Katherine OR Kate) AND Bladow. But someone with a more popular name might need to be more restrictive, say ("Jonathan Smith" OR "Jon Smith") AND Massachusetts.
- Subscribe with your reader or by e-mail, when you are satisfied with your results.
Ta Da! You are listening.
If you are listening already, I encourage you to step it up: refine your key words, add a new source, or move your e-mail alerts to a feed reader.
To learn more about listening, check out these resources:
- Beth Kanter - What is the value of listening to social media channels for your organization?
- Beth Kanter - Listening Literacy Skills: What keywords or phrases have brought you some insights?
- Amy Sample Ward - Live Blogging: 09NTC Mapping Your Social Media Strategy
- We Are Media - Module 1: Listening
- ProBlogger - Set Up ‘Alerts’ to Monitor What is Happening in Your Niche
So now it's your turn. Did you take my challenge? Either way I'd love to hear about what you are listening for, what tools you are using for listening, and any lessons that you've learned so far. If you aren't listening, tell me why not.
Come on. Speak up! I'm listening. - K
Kate Bladow is a Non-Profit Techie that works for Pro Bono Net by day and blogs at Technola by night