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                             FreePint
         "Helping 72,000 people use the Web for their work"
                     http://www.freepint.com/

ISSN 1460-7239                                   12th May 2005 No.182
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         Fully-formatted full-colour edition available at:
            <http://www.freepint.com/issues/120505.pdf>

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                           IN THIS ISSUE
                           -------------

                             EDITORIAL
                          By William Hann

                       MY FAVOURITE TIPPLES
                         By Carolyn Eager

                           FREEPINT BAR
                    In Association with Factiva
                   a Dow Jones & Reuters Company

                   JINFO :: JOBS IN INFORMATION
             Freelance Researchers - Business Broking
                        Business Researcher
                Librarian / Information Manager
                        Information Officer
                        
                           TIPS ARTICLE
                       "Ready, Steady, Go!
              Finding the right time for job hunting"
                  By Sue Hill and Nicola Franklin

                             BOOKSHELF
    "Knowledge Management for SMEs - Solutions and Strategies"
                       Written by Jela Webb
                     Reviewed by Sean McManus

                          FEATURE ARTICLE
    "Analysing corporate websites for competitive intelligence"
                          By Arthur Weiss
                         
               EVENTS, GOLD AND FORTHCOMING ARTICLES

                        CONTACT INFORMATION

             ONLINE VERSION WITH ACTIVATED HYPERLINKS
            <http://www.freepint.com/issues/120505.htm>

                      FULLY FORMATTED VERSION
            <http://www.freepint.com/issues/120505.pdf>


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    ** Three Information Today conferences, Paris, 1-2 June **

       WebSearch Academy: Carrying out research on the net?
  Enterprise Search Paris: Developing an internal search capability?
 e-Workplace Collaboration: Implementing collaboration technologies?

               For more information and to register:
                 <http://www.infotoday.com/Paris/>

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            ***  Hoover's reviewed in April's VIP  ***

Hoover's UK Pro Premium provides a mix of proprietary and D&B data on
UK and international companies. Read what VIP has to say about company
coverage, searching, and generating lists and reports. This issue also 
includes the first in a new series of Source Guides:

                     <http://www.vivaVIP.com/>

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                     ***  ABOUT FREEPINT  ***

FreePint is an online network of information searchers. Members
receive this free newsletter twice a month: it is packed with tips
on finding quality and reliable business information on the Internet.

Joining is free at <http://www.freepint.com/> and provides access to
a substantial archive of articles, reviews, jobs and events, with
answers to research questions and networking at the FreePint Bar.

Please circulate this newsletter, which is best read when printed out.
To receive a fully formatted version as an attachment or a brief
notification when it's online, visit <http://www.freepint.com/subs/>.

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                             EDITORIAL
                          By William Hann

Hands up. I may have made a mistake. Calling this newsletter
'FreePint' may not have been the smart move I thought it was
back in 1997.

Not only do email spam filters object to the word 'free', but the name
generally takes at least a little explanation in countries outside the
UK: Europeans pronounce 'pint' with a hard 'i' (as in 'mint') and the
attractions of a 'free pint' often require explanation across the
pond.

Because only about 38% of our readers are in the UK, we've always been
acutely aware of the cultural diversity of our membership. Never more
so than the reactions to the running theme in the last few FreePints
about the 'information mix' consisting of free information, paid-for
information and promotional material. This has solicited comment from
around the world, such as this excerpt from an email from a FreePinter
in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA:

  "I was surprised to find your statement [that the idea of promotion
  ... still has some way to go before becoming accepted, especially
  in the UK]. As you know, advertising and promotion are very
  common here in the States. Frankly, I thought that we had inherited
  advertising and promotion (along with English Common Law, the
  concept of individual rights and capitalism -- Thank you Adam
  Smith!) from you Brits since the founders of our country were
  virtually all of English ancestry.
 
  In this country, advertising and promotion are essential to the
  cultural and economic progress of the nation. It helps to fuel
  demand for all manner of products and services. The popular culture
  is absolutely dependent on it as advertising pays for virtually all
  radio and television programming. Even high culture is partially
  funded through advertising or corporate sponsorship. Are
  advertising and promotion truly not accepted in the UK?

  I hope that you will continue to find the right mix of content and
  promotion so that FreePint can continue on as the excellent source
  of information that it is today.  Best wishes for continued
  success."

We definitely don't have the same views about commercialisation here
in the UK as in the States (heck, we don't even spell it the same
way). After a number of trips across the pond I'm getting fairly used
to the different attitude towards commercialism: making sure you tip
everyone; avoiding the television if you don't want your programming
being interrupted every 8 minutes by advertising; extra taxes being
added to advertised prices; etc.

On the flipside, entrepreneurialism is encouraged in the States like
it has never been here in the UK. We also don't have the same attitude
towards the benefits of learning from our mistakes.

There are, however, similarities in attitude too: towards celebrity in
relation to business -- see the popularity of the television series
'The Apprentice' which came to the UK from the US recently -- or the
importance of 'Doing Business With a Conscience' (the subject of
yesterday's 'Shop Talk' on BBC Radio 4 <http://digbig.com/4djnf>).

Whatever the differences in attitude towards money, it is the quality
of the people involved in any project that will define its success or
failure. We're proud to have lined up some great content (see the long
list of 'Forthcoming Articles') and to be able to publish the valuable
contributions made in today's FreePint on job hunting and competitive
research. We're not shy to mix this with contributions from sponsors
and advertisers, without whom we could not publish FreePint for free.

So, wherever you are in the world and whatever your attitude toward
money and commercialism, please join us in thanking those who
contribute to FreePint financially and, equally, in thanking those
who contribute editorially.

William Hann
Managing Editor and Founder, FreePint

e: william.hann@freepint.com
t: 0870 141 7474
i: +44 870 141 7474

FreePint is a Registered Trademark of Free Pint Limited (R) 1997-2005
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>>>  In-depth information management reports from FreePint  <<<

   Topics include: Freedom of Information; Information Auditing;
Publishing eNewsletters; Acquiring Skills; Info-Entrepreneur Marketing

  "Well written and concise. Particularly like the coverage, e.g.
pleasing range of chapters, links made to other relevant and related
 issues such as FoI, records management, info policy, etc., and the
resources lists. Up to date, easy to digest and nicely structured."

       Read about the full range of reports from FreePint at:
              <http://www.freepint.com/shop/report/>

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                       MY FAVOURITE TIPPLES
                         By Carolyn Eager

* BBC Health - Extensive health information with sections on men's,
  women's and children's health, as well as advice on nutrition and
  fitness <http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/>.

* CancerBACUP - Their patient information leaflets are comprehensive
  and pitched at just the right level
  <http://www.cancerbacup.org.uk/>.

* NHS Direct - Our colleagues down south. NHS Direct Online is an
  excellent, detailed source of patient information
  <http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/>.

* Patient UK - They have over 500 printable patient information
  leaflets on health and disease, arranged alphabetically and by
  topic. Invaluable <http://www.patient.co.uk>.
   
* Health Scotland - Includes a database of Health and Support Groups
  which we can recommend to callers <http://www.hebs.com/>.

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Carolyn Eager is Health Information Officer for NHS 24 in Glasgow.
NHS 24 is a telephone triage and health information service.

Submit your top five favourite Web sites. See the guidelines at
<http://www.freepint.com/author.htm>.

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           *** Register for Search Tips from Factiva ***

Factiva's monthly newsletter, "InfoPro Alliance" gives you the inside
    scoop on latest search tips, research tools and new sources.

    Register today and you'll find credible information faster.

          <http://www.factiva.com/emails/2005/freepinttext512>

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    >>>  FreePint Newsletter Archive and Formatted Editions  <<<

  A full archive of FreePint Newsletters is freely available online,
   alongside fully-formatted editions of the newsletter. These are
printable, and include photos of the authors and colour advertising.

   Check out the archive and have selected issues emailed to you:
                 <http://www.freepint.com/issues/>

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                            FREEPINT BAR
                   <http://www.freepint.com/bar>

                    In Association with Factiva
                   a Dow Jones & Reuters Company

Thank you to all those who responded to our request to report on
the SLA Conference 2005 in June. It should make interesting reading
for all those who can't attend <http://www.freepint.com/go/b32059>.

One FreePinter would like to find the proceedings of a conference held
back in 2003, called "Tank Tech"<http://www.freepint.com/go/b32042>
and another is looking for one or two day conferences/exhibitions that
won't break the bank <http://www.freepint.com/go/b32048>.

Running out of reading material? Three free newsletters have been
publicised in the last two weeks: the Internet Resources Newsletter
for academics, students, engineers, scientists & social scientists
<http://www.freepint.com/go/b32052>; the Jinfo Newsletter - latest
jobs, tips and advice in the information industry
<http://www.freepint.com/go/b32051>; and the SLA Europe Newsletter
<http://www.freepint.com/go/b32033>.

Do you know of a free newsletter service on the U.S./North American
telecommunication industry with daily or weekly updates?
<http://www.freepint.com/go/b32080>. How about a book on Red Howler
Monkeys? <http://www.freepint.com/go/b32085>.

What's the situation for people who are looking for work in a library
without librarian education? <http://www.freepint.com/go/b32065>.

VIP Eye No.32 has been published <http://www.freepint.com/go/b32041>.
Among the new products covered are new indexes for Chinese companies,
Kompass' extranet product, a new summit from TFPL, and much more.

Does anyone know the approximate development costs for the Church of
Fools site? <http://www.freepint.com/go/b32061>. Perhaps you know
where to find the record signings in football from 1988 through to
2004? <http://www.freepint.com/go/b32030>.

Can you help with finding inflation rates and interest rates?
<http://www.freepint.com/go/b32084>. Or what about a (free) website
containing prices of particular shares in the past?
<http://www.freepint.com/go/b32099>. One person is looking for excise
duty rates for tobacco in USA, Japan, China and many countries outside
Europe <http://www.freepint.com/go/b32087>.

Here is an interesting posting that received an immediate
answer -- a website showing examples of excellence from the
banner ad world <http://www.freepint.com/go/b32022>.

Thank you to everyone who has posted questions and replies, making
the Bar such an interesting and thriving destination.

Penny Hann <penny.hann@freepint.com>
FreePint

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The FreePint Bar is where you can get free help with your tricky
research questions <http://www.freepint.com/bar>

Help with study for information-related courses is available at the
FreePint Student Bar <http://www.freepint.com/student>.

Twice-weekly email digests of the latest postings can be requested
at <http://www.freepint.com/subs/>.

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         *** First review of China Insight in May VIP  ***

The May issue of VIP includes the first extensive review of China 
Insight. Newly launched by Xinhua Finance, it combines data on Chinese
publicly listed companies with software developed by Mergent. This 
issue also carries an in-depth review of Mergent Online.

                     <http://www.vivaVIP.com/>

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                   JINFO :: JOBS IN INFORMATION
                      <http://www.jinfo.com/>

The Jinfo service enables you to search for and advertise
information-related job vacancies.

The Jinfo Newsletter is published free every two weeks, and contains
a list of the latest vacancies along with job seeking advice. The
latest editorial is entitled "Putting No.1 First".

To read the latest Jinfo Newsletter and to subscribe to receive it
twice-monthly by email, visit <http://www.jinfo.com/newsletter/>.

Here are some of the latest featured jobs:

Freelance Researchers - Business Broking
  Expanding UK based business brokerage requires freelance
  researchers to support our deals on a project by project basis.
  Recruiter: Churchfield Business Brokers
  <http://www.jinfo.com/go/j4011>

Business Researcher
  Recent Library/Information graduate? Excellent training
  opportunity for bright person with potential and basic experience.
  Recruiter: Glen Recruitment
  <http://www.jinfo.com/go/j4018>
  
Librarian / Information Manager
  Duties in managing a large library budget and the running of two
  libraries in two different countries.
  Recruiter: D A Solutions Ltd
  <http://www.jinfo.com/go/j4023>

Information Officer
  Law library exp? Perm enquiries role in small friendly firm, salary
  21-26,000 - also lots of temporary law library jobs currently.
  Recruiter: Sue Hill Recruitment
  <http://www.jinfo.com/go/j4039>

NB: There are 24 other jobs in the current edition of the Jinfo
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[The above jobs are paid listings]

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                      What is ResourceShelf?
                   <http://www.resourceshelf.com>

ResourceShelf is a free daily update containing news of interest
to information professionals around the world.

Topics include the latest news with web search engines, research
tips, new web resources, and much more.

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    ***  VIP, VIP Eye and VIP Wire :: Business information  ***

    VIP reviews information products; VIP Eye analyses the news;
             VIP Wire lists the latest press releases.

   Where else can you get such coverage of business information?

                     <http://www.vivavip.com/>

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                            TIPS ARTICLE
         <http://www.freepint.com/issues/120505.htm#tips>
                       "Ready, Steady, Go!
              Finding the right time for job hunting"
                  By Sue Hill and Nicola Franklin

Everyone always wants to know the secret. When is the right time to
be looking for a job? Well I don't believe there is a right time.
You should always be ready to go for a job, because you never know
when the right one for you is going to come along.


Myths abound
------------

Myth: It's no good looking around Christmas. 
 
Why not? We have had jobs come in on Christmas Eve, and candidates
go for interviews between Christmas and New Year.
 
Myth: There won't be any jobs in the New Year as everyone is looking
      at their budgets.

Not true. In fact this is one of busiest times for temporary work as
organisations may have funds to spend before their next budget.

Myth: Of course it's summer now so no one will be hiring.

Again not true. We are always busy in summer, sometimes things can
move a little slowly as everyone seems to be on holiday, but there are
always plenty of jobs around.

We can always see when people think it is a good time to be looking,
as we receive a higher number of CVs. Those New Year resolutions have
a lot to answer for. Once bonuses have been paid in the 'City' then
the CV intake goes up as well.

When an organisation has a job to fill or a project to do, they will
start recruiting. They are not going to wait for a right or a wrong
time. So get going now and make sure that your job hunting strategy is
well defined and that you are ready for action when the right job for
you comes along. As Linford Christie said when he won his gold medal
(and job hunting is a little like winning gold medals), "I needed to
learn to GO on the B of the BANG."

To ensure that you can APPLY on the 'A' of Advertisement then there
are 3 key things to be sure you have right:


1. Continuing Professional Development
--------------------------------------

As the title implies, professional development must be continuous.

* What have you done this week about your Continuing Professional
  Development? 
* Have you promoted your own or your teams' achievements outside of
  the department? 
* What professional activities are you involved in outside of
  your work?
* What are you doing now in your job that you weren't doing three
  months ago?
* When did you last look at or revise your CV?
* Where do you see your future? 

Questions, questions, questions! 

As recruiters, we often see people who are what my old headmaster
Bernie (to us) Brown would have said were "wallowing in a slough of
iniquity and sloth". I was never quite sure what it meant back then
but I knew it wasn't good. I think the modern equivalent might be
something along the lines of "not pulling out the proverbial finger".

We cannot sit back and expect things to come to us. The modern way of
education and development at work very much encourages us to take care
of our own development. We must grasp the nettle and get things
moving. Perhaps your appraisal is due. What are you planning to say to
your line manager about your development? Have you investigated what
the organisation you work for offers in the way of Continuing
Professional Development? An example here from the University of
Bradford:

"There is a strong link between the development of staff and the
University's overall success. It is important therefore that the
University supports you in your development.

The Staff Development Team aims to provide a wide range of
opportunities for staff and postgraduate students, details of which
can be found on this Web site. Our learning events are designed to
help you develop your knowledge and skills in support of your current
role, or to prepare you for a future role.

We encourage you to make use of the opportunities available. In doing
so you will undoubtedly increase the value of your contribution to the
success of the University, helping us all to meet the increasing
challenges faced within the higher education sector.

* Statutory / Essential (i.e. staff development / training that is
  required by legislation, or is a condition of employment, or is
  compulsory for a specific role)

* Encouraged (i.e. explicitly linked to the achievement of agreed
  objectives, for which resources will be prioritised)

* Personal preference (Staff Development activities chosen by
  individuals that may take place in work time or outside, and may be
  fully or only partly funded by the University)"

I particularly like the sentence that acknowledges that if you do
attend to your CPD you will increase the value of your contribution to
the success of the organisation. I would add that you will increase
your own sense of self-worth and esteem, your marketability and your
value to the outside world and perhaps encourage your colleagues to
grasp the CPD nettle as well.

If you are doing something for yourself make sure that you let the
people who matter know. If it is work related in any way record it.
This is no time to hide your light under a bushel.

Now you have got that right it is time for:


2. Ensuring you have an up-to-the-minute CV
-------------------------------------------

As part of the induction training for our new team members we have
been including training on giving presentations on effective CV
writing. This has involved reading a 'how to write a CV' book, and
listening to existing team members deliver this type of presentation,
as well as learning how to stand up and give presentations
professionally.

All this activity has led to our uncovering some amusing howlers that
various consultants (or clients, in some cases!) have spotted on CVs
we have received. Some examples include:

* 'Martial Status' (instead of Marital Status - spot the difference!)
* ' ... have outstandings proofreading skills.' - noticed by a client,
  who decided not to invite the candidate in for an interview
* Cases where the date of birth given is for this year
* 'Have an influential impute into ... ' (right after a sentence
  saying they were responsible for advising on Plain English
  for documents)
* 'Lamp making is also a passion' - perhaps a bit over-enthusiastic?

Some of the most common CV feedback that we receive from clients,
given as a reason for deciding not to interview candidates, is lack of
attention to detail, and/or poor writing style, spelling or grammar.
All of this goes to show that it is not just having a well-formatted
CV or an impressive list of experience and skills to offer, but also
the 'little things' that count.

Should you be offered some advice on your CV - on the content,
formatting, layout or style, you need to consider where that advice is
coming from and make a decision on whether to follow it. If a
recruitment agency is giving you some free advice, it is probably
based on their experience of 'what sells' to their clients, so it is
probably a good idea to incorporate their ideas into your CV and send
them a new copy in order to maximise your chances of securing
interviews with those organisations. Of course, you can always keep
copies of several different versions of your CV - it is very useful to
use a tailored CV for each type of job/type of organisation to which
you want to apply, and this principal applies to different agencies
you register with as well.

If you want to make sure that your CV doesn't let you down and that
you secure all the interview invitations possible, then it is vitally
important that you review what you have written carefully. Do not rely
on scanning it through on the screen as it is virtually impossible to
see your own mistakes; the eye sees what the brain tells it you have
just written, even if that isn't the case! It is much better to print
out your CV and re-read it a day or so after you initially wrote it.
Ideally ask someone else to read it through for you and proofread it
as well. A polished CV will secure you more interviews - and hopefully
lead to your next step on the career ladder.

Once you have the interview you should pat yourself on the back.
However you are not there yet. You need to be sure that you attend to:


3. Interview Preparation
------------------------

After the elation of getting the letter or phone call inviting you in
for an interview for the great role you have applied for, the nerves
set in. What questions are they going to ask? Who will you be seeing?
What are they expecting to hear from you? Will you forget what you
want to say? How should you dress? What questions should you ask them?
... the list goes on.

The key to success in interviews is the preparation you do before
hand. Without preparation you really are preparing to fail. Although
it is tempting to think that, since you know yourself well, you will
be able to answer questions about yourself 'off the cuff' on the day,
this is almost never the case. Even if you are a confident person and
fluent communicator, it is very hard indeed to present the best answer
you could have given off the top of your head.

In order to prepare for the interview, you need some material in front
of you beforehand. The minimum you need is: your CV (or application
form) and their advert. It is much better to also have: their job
description and a person specification and their web site address. For
more senior posts it is also useful to have a copy of their company
brochure, financial accounts and any press articles about the
organisation.

You should read through the job description carefully, taking note of
each of the responsibilities it lists, and considering which skills
are needed to carry them out. Then think of what evidence or examples
you can offer to demonstrate that you have those skills - not
necessarily from doing exactly the same task, but perhaps from an
allied activity.

You should also read through the person specification - sometimes a
separate document to the job description and sometimes a part of it -
which usually lists the qualification, skills, experiences and
aptitudes that the organisation considers essential and desirable for
applicants to have, in order to be able to do the job successfully.
You should carry out the same exercise and imagine what questions they
could ask you based on the points in the person specification, so that
you can plan what examples you will give them to show you have as many
of the attributes they are looking for as possible.

You should also prepare for the interview by researching the
organisation you are going to see - especially as information
professionals! Try not to restrict this to a quick glance at their web
site, but read it through more carefully and with an analytical eye -
what are their products/services? Who are their customers? Who are
their competitors (i.e. who else offer the same products or services)?
What do they see as their key selling points? You may well find that
they ask you the question 'what do you know about our organisation?'
Or 'Why are you interested in coming to work here?' Knowing this
information will help you tailor your answer to these questions in the
most effective way.

Preparation can also help you with the thorny issue of personal
presentation - if you have planned which suit, shirt and tie, or which
skirt/trouser suit and top to wear, with which accessories, how to
have your hair, which watch/shoes, etc. to have, and have made sure in
advance that all these things are washed, pressed and shined ...
then getting ready on the big day will be much less stressful. The
same goes for having planned your route/travel and being sure that you
will arrive an hour early (if all goes well en route) or at the very
least on time if you have a bad journey.

If you turn up to your interview composed, looking your best, with a
clear idea of what sorts of questions you are likely to be asked and
confident that you have good examples to offer to demonstrate your
skills, then you are much more likely to be successful in securing an
offer for the role. Putting in the time, effort and thought required
to be prepared is down to you.

All of this investment will ensure that the next activity is offered
to you.


4. A new job!
-------------

The new job offer is not necessarily the end. Not everyone wants to
accept a job offer, or they may want to negotiate first. However, to
do this you need to have paid full attention to Step 1, CPD. If you
end up with a job you didn't want you will have no one to blame but
yourself. Attending to your CPD puts you in the strong position of
knowing what job you want, what job is right for you and what you are
ready for. The interview process, Step 3 also helps here. You should
have gleaned sufficient information from the interview to know that
the job is right for you.

So repel the myths about right and wrong times for job hunting and
remember that to get the right job you need to be ready with the right
approach and preparation. Job hunting is a 365 day per year activity.
Good luck!

> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Sue Hill FREC Hon FCLIP is the founder and Managing Director of
Sue Hill Recruitment. Nicola Franklin is a Senior Consultant at Sue
Hill Recruitment <http://www.suehill.com>.

Sue and Nicola are frequent contributors to the Jinfo Newsletter,
with job listings and career advice for information-related 
vacancies <http://www.jinfo.com/>.

> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Related FreePint links:

* 'Employment/Recruitment/HR' articles in the FreePint Portal
  <http://www.freepint.com/go/p39>
* Jinfo <http://www.jinfo.com/>
* Post a message to the authors, Sue Hill and Nicola Franklin, or
  suggest further resources at the FreePint
  Bar <http://www.freepint.com/bar>
* Read this article online, with activated hyperlinks
  <http://www.freepint.com/issues/120505.htm#tips>
* Access the entire archive of FreePint content
  <http://www.freepint.com/portal/content/>

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        >>>  Onopoly :: One-stop-shop for advertisers  <<< 

  For ratecards and details about advertising across the range of
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                         FREEPINT BOOKSHELF
                <http://www.freepint.com/bookshelf>
    "Knowledge Management for SMEs - Solutions and Strategies"
                     Reviewed by Sean McManus

'Knowledge management' is not a term you hear much in SMEs. Partly
it's because they're too busy getting on with doing the work of
running the business to worry too much about analysing it and partly
because knowledge management has been associated with big business.
Corporates operating internationally with thousands of employees need
to share information in order to be competitive. In small businesses,
there's a large enough informal network to enable people to get the
job done. With most of the literature focusing on big biz, it's easy to
see why SMEs on the whole show little interest in knowledge
management.

The irony is that small businesses have much more at stake: because
there are fewer employees, each one is likely to be more important to
the business's continuity. When an employee dies, a significant chunk
of business expertise and experience might die with them. If it's the
founder or a key salesman, the business itself could go under. SMEs
that don't plan knowledge management measures are tempting fate.

The book 'Knowledge management for SMEs' by Jela Webb is more of an
analysis than a how-to guide. Good ideas for knowledge sharing can be
lifted from the case studies, such as having a policy to copy others
on emails and conducting vivas before promotion to identify knowledge
gaps. But the book presents more analysis than advice - there's a
whole chapter dedicated to defining the SME and several pages
discussing the EU's plans to become a leading knowledge-based economy
by 2010. While this will be of interest to researchers - and will
provide many jumping-off points for deeper research - I can't imagine
many small business owners finding these sections useful in their
work.

The size of the companies profiled in case studies varies
significantly with companies of 40, 75 and 200+ employees all telling
their story. For small business owners, the most compelling case study
will be that of Bailey Solutions, a business with just five employees.
This study revolves around succession planning and knowledge transfer
to ensure that the business is not forever dependent on its founder.
The solution Bailey adopted was a combination of using IT to provide
secure access to information and holding meetings to share knowledge.
The knowledge discussed in this case is mostly relating to client
relationships, and it would have been interesting to see more
discussion of process documentation in a business of this size so that
everyone knows - as far as is predictable - how each job is to be done
in the absence of the leader. Nevertheless, any small business owner
with aspirations to retire will find this a thought-provoking read.

The book is written in a friendly business magazine style, with
chapters concluding with summaries, key points and action lists. This
helps make the material accessible to everyone. Its core audience
though is likely to be among researchers, analysts and those in medium
sized companies about to undertake a major knowledge management
project. For them, this book is strongly recommended.

> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Sean McManus is a business and technology writer. He is the founder of
media careers advice site JournalismCareers.com
<http://www.journalismcareers.com> and fun mood-surfing website Wild
Mood Swings <http://www.wildmoodswings.co.uk>. You can download free
chapters from his books 'Small Business Websites That Work' and 'The
Customer Service Pocketbook' (co-authored) at his website at
<http://www.sean.co.uk>. The website also hosts a wide range of
website development resources and a selection of original
JavaScript games.

> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Related FreePint links:

* Find out more about this book online at the FreePint Bookshelf
  <http://www.freepint.com/bookshelf/kmsme.htm>
* "Knowledge Management for SMEs - Solutions and Strategies"
  ISBN 0-9543897-7-8, published by Ark Group
* Search for and purchase any book from Amazon via the FreePint
  Bookshelf at <http://www.freepint.com/bookshelf>
* Read about other Internet Strategy books on the FreePint Bookshelf
  <http://www.freepint.com/bookshelf/strategy.htm>

To propose an information-related book for review, send details
to <support@freepint.com>.

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    >>>  Willco :: Helping you build your online community  <<<

    Managing members, publishing email newsletters and running
  online forums is all automated by using the Willco Modules system.
 As recommended by FreePint and many other online network operators.

                     <http://www.Willco.com/>

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                           FEATURE ARTICLE
         <http://www.freepint.com/issues/120505.htm#feature>
    "Analysing corporate websites for competitive intelligence"
                          By Arthur Weiss

You've found your competitor's site (and the chances are that you
didn't even need to Google it - you guessed or knew the domain name).
Now what? Well, obviously you want to visit as much of it as you can
to vacuum up any tidbits of information that will tell you about their
strategy, their values and what they want to tell the world. At the
same time you'll be aware that much of the information is there to
sell the company and may not be 100% reliable: 'brochure-ware' is a
term sometimes used.

Yet is this all that can be done? 

Is there more that could be found if you just knew how? 

The answer is usually yes!

In fact, a better way to view a corporate web presence is similar to
the way you would view it in the offline world. You need to look at it
in its entirety, searching for things that are below the surface,
while focusing on your own strategic and organizational needs.

As well as the content itself, the design can provide hints to how the
company sees itself. Other clues can come from identifying site
ownership, and also related or sister sites. Sometimes you can find
information that should have been protected or removed but is
available for all who know where to look. A clue to company strategy
can come from an examination of how the site has changed over time and
also how the company sees itself in the web-environment: how easy it
is to be found for search terms, etc.

A first step is to identify site ownership and sister sites. This is
a relatively straightforward process in which you know the domain or
where there are links to the site. Domain ownership can be checked
at domain registries - for example: Network Solutions
<http://www.networksolutions.com> or Nominet <http://www.nic.uk/>
for UK registered domains. Worldwide domain ownerships can be checked
at Checkdomain.com <http://www.checkdomain.com>. Things to look for
are any linked domains mentioned, especially when checking first level
addresses (.com, .org, .info, etc.) as additional contact information
is generally provided for these. As well as checking known domains it
can also be worth searching for all domains owned by a competitor or
with specific keywords in the URL - and tracking these. Currently it
is not possible, unfortunately, to search for all names owned by a
company worldwide. However it is possible to search for all .com
domains and some others using Dialog - via Dialog file 225. Sometimes
this can throw up some surprises. For example the domain "roll-
back.com" is not owned by Asda supermarkets - even though "roll-back"
is a slogan Asda use to emphasise their price competitiveness. Instead
it is owned by arch-competitor, Tesco! B&Q owns a variety of domains
such as bandq.co.uk, b-and-q.com, etc. They also own diy.com. In this
case, diy.com is B&Q's main domain but in other cases a dissimilar
domain could indicate plans for the future. (As an example, check the
ownership of <http://www.find-it-out.co.uk> - we registered it in
April 2005).

After checking for ownership through the domain registries, the
NetCraft Search DNS service <http://searchdns.netcraft.com> can be
valuable. This allows you to list all active domains using specific
keywords. For example, there are 10 domains which include "freepint"
in the name - including freepintvip.com. The NetCraft service allows
you to also see any domains that are similar but not owned by the
company - in the case of 'freepint', 'freepints.com' appears not to
be owned by FreePint. This example is relatively simple - with only 10
domains. Often there are hundreds to check but some of those appearing
would not be easily found through other routes. They can include
specific customer, supplier or employee sites that would be hard to
find through a search engine and tend to be known by the people who
use them but not otherwise promoted.

Further clues to the company can come from links to and from the
various company websites. Links to the website can be checked using
Yahoo and the linkdomain field (e.g. linkdomain:freepint.com). Links
to specific pages can be done with the link field on several search
engines, or via the incredibly useful Faganfinder URL Info facility
<http://www.faganfinder.com/urlinfo>, which allows you to check the
same site with several tools. URLInfo offers a wealth of other options
for investigating competitor websites, including link finding and
domain ownership identification. It also allows you to estimate
competitor site usage and traffic via Alexa and view a sites
page-rank, check the validity of its HTML code, track site changes,
and view cached pages.

Alexa (accessible from Faganfinder, above, or at
<http://www.alexa.com>) is a free tool for examining competitor
websites. Although its traffic estimates will not be the real
traffic, they should allow you to compare sites. Alexa also gives
indications of whether the site is becoming more or less popular, and
allows you to see what other sites people are visiting. A paid
alternative to Alexa giving more reliable statistics can be obtained
from Hitwise <http://www.hitwise.com>.

The way a site changes over time can give a major clue as to how the
company sees itself in relation to the web, and sometimes to its
general strategy. Sites do change over time - with useful pages
disappearing. The Wayback Machine <http://www.archive.org> is a
facility that allows you to see the changes or locate lost pages (so
long as they are around a year old). In some cases it is possible to
view sites as they were in the mid/late 1990s - and to track their
development over the years.

Generally companies want to be found on the web - but not all are as
good as they would like to be. How would a customer search for them?
Think about the search terms a customer would use, and see where they
appear on Google, Yahoo! or other search engines and directories. If
they are not in the top 10 or 100, is it because they have not
optimized their website or is it because you have entered in the
wrong search terms? A utility for checking the position on Google or
Yahoo! for several different search terms is Google Rankings at
<http://www.googlerankings.com> and Yahoo! Search Rankings at
<http://www.yahoosearchrankings.com>. Sometimes you can identify the
search terms they would like to be seen under by examining their
source code: look for the "metatag keyword" or "metatag description"
sections at the top of their HTML source code, and note the terms
used.

A few years ago metatags were much more important as an indicator, but
as they fell from grace for search engine optimization, they also
disappeared from many sites. However, some sites still use them and so
it is still worth a look. Similarly, the robots.txt file is not used
as frequently as in the past. This tells search engines which
directories NOT to visit. Of course, as a competitive intelligence
expert that is just where you want to go and generally these
un-indexed directories are publicly available without any password
protection. (Breaking passwords is hacking - and completely unethical.
Don't go there!)

Other things to look for on competitor sites are hidden links - links
to other web-pages that are masked or hidden in some way, for example
through using a single pixel image, etc. These can be found by
browsing the source code, or more quickly using the "page-info" tool
on Mozilla-based browsers such as FireFox and checking the links shown
on each page. As well as searching for hidden links, look for hidden
pages through the site search box: use search terms such as "logs" to
pull up the site log-files, "supplier" to pull up supplier listings or
any other term that would bring up pages that may not be immediately
found. ("Confidential" for example may pull up items marked
"confidential" - although whether or not these can be used is another
question. Marking an item as confidential, but then making it publicly
available removes the confidentiality - but what happens if it is then
removed from the website. Can you prove that you got it without going
through illegal routes?)

Finally, look to see if there are any PowerPoint presentations or
Microsoft Word documents on the website. Sometimes these have
embedded Excel files which contain a lot more information than
intended. (My favourite example was a security company website. The
company was probably fine when it came to protecting buildings and
people, but not data. Their corporate presentation - in PowerPoint -
included a graph that when clicked on gave an Excel spreadsheet with a
second worksheet containing details of several customers and their
purchases from the company!)

In summary: there is a lot more that can be found on corporate web
sites other than just the text and sales patter. Knowing where and how
to look is the first step. Knowing how to use it, however, is more
important - and any information found should be seen in the context of
the overall competitor's strategy and approach, rather than as
standalone facts.

> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Arthur Weiss is a UK-based consultant specialising in competitive
intelligence and strategy. He started using online sources for
competitive intelligence in the late 1980s and since then has become
expert in all aspects of online competitive intelligence research. In
1997 he offered the first training course on using the Internet for
Competitive Intelligence (at the Online Information Conference) and
has continued offering training courses on this topic - most recently
at the SCIP 2005 annual conference in Chicago. Arthur has written and
presented on competitive intelligence, marketing and Internet related
topics globally. He is the managing partner of AWARE, offering clients
CI research, analysis and training and can be contacted through
AWARE's website at <http://www.marketing-intelligence.co.uk>.

> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Related FreePint links:

* 'Information and Libraries' articles in the FreePint Portal
  <http://www.freepint.com/go/p69>
* Post a message to the author, Arthur Weiss, or suggest further
  resources at the FreePint Bar <http://www.freepint.com/bar>
* Read this article online, with activated hyperlinks
  <http://www.freepint.com/issues/120505.htm#feature>
* Access the entire archive of FreePint content
  <http://www.freepint.com/portal/content/>

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                          FREEPINT GOLD

* FreePint No.159 6th May 2004. "Working in Older Age" and
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* Free Pint No.38, 13th May 1999. "Patent information on the Internet
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* Free Pint No.14, 14th May 1998. "Six Opinions on Internet World UK"
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FreePint Topics
Sources: Staying informed and aware
Sources
Technology: Improving information work with technology
Technology
Value: Maximising value for information work and investment
Value
 
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