Several of my relatives have made a lifelong commitment to finding out all they can about their friends and neighbors. Unfortunately, they cannot contain that information to themselves and instead spread the details or stories to anyone that will listen.
I’ve always wondered why some people do that, even though: 1) it’s none of their business and 2) they could have the facts wrong and ruin someone’s reputation. My theory is that they have an unquenchable thirst for information. They feel compelled to find out everything they can about everything and everyone around them.
That is the exact opposite of web research. I offer web research as part of my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, because every business needs to stay current with information about products, services or new innovation. The most common reason to do web research is to find out what the competition is doing. Businesses need to be upfront about the products and services they offer, any special deals or discounts that’s out on the web. This provides a challenge to them to find ways to stay competitive.
Web research is also used to explore new possibilities. It provides current statistics on trends, important issues, and declining interests. Scanning the web for pertinent information can provide direction to a company, so they can decide to diversify by offering new products or services or to phase out products or services that are becoming outdated or obsolete.
I enjoy web researching, because as the researcher, I learn about new items and ideas and get a fresh perspective on things that I just took for granted. As a virtual assistant, I always get a clear picture of what my clients need and why they need it.
As a web researcher, I can pull up all kinds of information, but is it relevant to the needs of my clients? That’s why having a meeting to discuss what the purpose and focus of the research is all about saves time, money and enables me to quickly discard information that’s not needed.
Whether I’m researching a vacation resort or convention sites or just researching to find the best vehicle for the company fleet, it is important to outline what to look for and why the search is so important. I usually create an Excel spreadsheet or maybe even a PowerPoint presentation to display my results in a way that is clear, concise and easy to follow.
The end result is a detailed list (spreadsheet) of each item I have researched and broken down each piece of information into categories, so my client can make an informed decision. I may also take any financial information and make a chart or table that provides a visual of the information I have collected.
In the case of researching a place or product, I may create a PowerPoint presentation with a page for each item or place I have researched. I try to provide pictures or photos and list the Pros and Cons on each page. This may seem unnecessary, but I’ve found that after reading reports for most of the day, my clients prefer visuals, so they can look at the whole picture rather than just concentrate on the numbers.
A web researcher must be vigilant and discerning. Everything on the internet is not true or substantiated and that’s why web research is a lot like trying to find your ancestors. You must find matching information that verifies the original information that you found, so you can count it as true. It’s not enough to just look things up on the internet and take them at face value.
Just as my relatives have earned bad reputations as gossipers and busybodies, so to for any web researcher that wants to keep clients, the information has to be true and correct.