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How to Succeed as an Information Professional

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Ever dreamed of being paid to search? A new book provides a comprehensive roadmap for turning your dream of being a professional searcher into a successful reality.

Building & Running a Successful Research Business is the latest outstanding book from the prolific Mary Ellen Bates. The book offers a detailed blueprint for establishing your own information research business, and is packed with practical tips and helpful suggestions gleaned from years of hard-earned experience.

The book is divided into four parts, each of which could stand alone as a book in its own right. The first part, "Getting Started," covers the basics of launching your own research business. Beyond online searching, the first chapter talks about all of the various options open to an independent information professional.

For example, you could specialize in online searching, public records research, competitive intelligence or training and seminars -- or a combination of all of those activities. If you're insatiably curious there's literally no limit to the types of work you can find.

Even in the first chapter, Mary Ellen dives right in to the practical aspects of the job, offering real-life examples from her own work, and answering frequently asked questions that invariably come up in the beginning stages of running your own business.

Later chapters maintain this practical focus, covering topics such as a day in the life of an info pro, understanding your competition, structuring and setting up your business and balancing work with life. One chapter, "Are You a Potential Independent Info Pro?" helps you take a critical look at your own skills and interests to see if you really have what it takes to succeed.

The second section focuses on the operational details of running your business. How do you manage your clients? Set rates and fees? Invoice and collect payments from clients? And importantly, how do you conduct your research with integrity, making sure that you don't stray out of bounds with ethical and legal issues.

The third section on Marketing is invaluable because, quite frankly, most of us who thrive on ferreting out information could care less about this crucial activity. Mary Ellen herself fesses up to disliking marketing, but she also realizes that unless you're lucky or incredibly gifted, your business will die unless you market it.

The good news is that there are many ways to market yourself, and it turns out that many of them are actually both effective and fun. Although all of the chapters in this section are invaluable, pay particular attention to chapter 22, "Marketing by Writing and Speaking," because Mary Ellen is an acknowledged expert at both.

For example, she gets quite a bit of business from her Tip of the Month that she publishes as a free monthly newsletter. And if you've ever seen Mary Ellen speak at conferences, you know that she's always swarmed afterward, often by people wanting to engage her services.

The last chapter is an in-depth look at the various types of research methods and techniques you'll want to use as an information professional. Even if you have no desire to start and run your own business, this section is packed with useful information that will help you sharpen your searching and research skills.

Although I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of Mary Ellen's half-dozen books, Building and Running a Successful Research Business is my favorite -- and one that I learned a tremendous amount from, even though I run my own business.

Building and Running a Successful Research Business an outstanding guide to the delights and challenges of being an information professional, and a book you'll quite likely be turning to for help and insight for years to come.

Building & Running a Successful Research Business
by Mary Ellen Bates
CyberAge Books - $29.95
ISBN 0-910965-59-5

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