This tip may be less for the newbies, but I’m shocked at how poor people are at using the tools around them to find information. Your first step should be taking a look at how to use Google.

Eye Eye, by mrmanc

Eye Eye, by mrmanc

I mean, REALLY how to use Google.

Google is great because it can cast both a wide net and be tweaked to surgically deliver a single finding. It incorporates multiple sources (for example, did you know about the treasure trove of information to be found on books.google.com or scholar.google.com?) and allows for all kinds of detailed views and alerts when it finds new things. There is an entire science in the security space on Google hacking, or leveraging Google to find information that could be used against a target. I’m not sure how I got so good at using Google other than practice, practice, and more practice. So practice!

But, wait, THERE’S MORE! Google is NOT the end-all-be-all of searching as much as its employees might want you to think. You can use Google to find repositories of data within which you can search. For example, if you are in the payments or banking space, you should know about the KC Fed’s Research Repository. Did you know that they publish data on average interchange rates by merchant type annually? Or if you are looking for information on companies, paid (or free through your library) databases like Hoover’s or LexisNexis are hugely valuable. Everyone knows about Wikipedia, but don’t use it as an authoritative source. You can use it to quickly learn about a topic, and then get to the good articles later down the line (perhaps via EBSCO, ProQuest, or JSTOR).

If you are not great at quickly finding information that you need or you don’t have a list of go-to sites for subject-based searching, start working on this by reading up on how to do it. Start with the link above, then visit your library. The new librarian isn’t the old lady who can only memorize parts of Dewey’s system, she is a digitally savvy professional that knows how to find information. You might even call her an information scientist!

Up next, we’re going to talk about calendars!

This post originally appeared on BrandenWilliams.com.