If you are developing a freelance or consulting practice by directly contacting the individuals most likely to hire you, identifying these individuals is an ongoing necessity.
Google Alerts is a service made in heaven to deliver leads to you every day for free . . . and effortlessly . . . once your alerts are set up.
Google Alerts emails you automatically when there are new Google results for your search terms. You can also choose to have your alerts delivered via feed to the feedreader of your choice.
The potential is enormous when you consider that you can have up to 1,000 active alerts.
It’s easy to get started. Once you establish your account, filling in the form is a cinch.
But it’s more difficult to design your alerts so the results are relevant. If you list a lot of words in a single search but use no quotation marks to string together specific phrases, you’ll get hits that list all the words but are totally unexpected.
You can begin to fine-tune your alerts from the start by experimenting with Google searches. As you receive and review your alerts, continue to improve (or delete) them to get more of what you want and eliminate an influx of garbage.
Of course, receiving alerts is useless unless you review them promptly . . . or at least occasionally. Not only can you identify names and companies to contact, but you may receive news of prospects’ awards and accomplishments that you can recognize with notes, phone calls, etc.
What to monitor?
- Your own name and the name of your business
- Companies that use your services currently
- Companies for which you’d like to do assignments
- Individuals for whom you’d like to do assignments
- Developments in your industry or line of work. Get specific or you’ll soon quit even scanning the list!
- Your competitors (individuals and companies)
- Associations to which you belong (or at least of interest)
- Business developments in your community. This is easier if you limit it to your own small rural or suburban community.
A thousand is a darned big number. But the reality is that narrow topics may rarely generate an alert.
And like anything else on the Internet, you must manage how you use this service to prevent overwhelm.