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Diversify Your Sources for Objectivity without Overload

Last week, I cleaned out my computer history and online bookmarks. There was a lot of clutter there, a jumble of websites that I’d visited just once or twice. When I bookmarked those sites, I had every intention of going back. But time and priorities and the allure of the Newest! Latest! Greatest! drew my attention elsewhere.

As I filtered through the long list of bookmarks and pondered which ones should be keepers, I realized that there is a lot of incredible online content that’s just not easy to find. The sheer number of choices makes it nearly impossible and somewhat unpleasant to search for exactly what you need. Instead, I fear, we all accept what we find readily. In other words, we lower our standards to minimize our search time. That means that we tune in to what’s appearing at the top of our search results and that we miss a whole lot more.

This gives tremendous clout and power to the companies who pay to promote themselves at the top of search results. It also results in our information being filtered for us – filtered by the people who have searched before us and boosted the search engine rankings every time they clicked on what was most readily available to them… filtered by companies who pay to promote their content… and filtered by marketers who know how to optimize search engine results using key words and the like.

This makes me just a little bit uncomfortable. It reminds me of doing pre-Internet research in the library (remember the periodical indexes?) and being limited to only the top magazine titles stocked in that particular library. The insidious difference now, though, is that what’s easy to find doesn’t always tell the whole story or provide an objective point of view. Nevertheless, we accept it because convenient access trumps everything else.

What we bookmark becomes what’s convenient for us to access. People of one political persuasion will bookmark sites that provide the news from that same perspective. Without getting objective and impartial news, an individual’s world view is shaped by what’s convenient. Our own “confirmation bias” makes this seem like an advantage when, in fact, it is a handicap. (Confirmation bias refers to the natural tendency we already have to accept information that supports our own view and to reject information that is contrary to what we already believe.)

Aside from news that is skewed and that further polarizes our points of view, we are also affected by the convenience factor when it comes to getting information that would help us in our day-to-day lives. We over rely on big name sites like Pinterest and Facebook, accessing the same inputs that everyone else is and limited by our own lack of variety in what we choose to view.

To break out of this mold, I’ve decided to go on a quest for finding new and unique business resources. I’ve landed on a few that I’ll share with you, just in case you’re also interested in expanding or diversifying your information sources. These are practical sites that have broad appeal but are not yet well known. Check these out:

If you are in business or deal with people in business or just want to have a resource for professional support, then this site is an absolute must. Managing Americans is “Where Professionals Go for Mentorship and Business Resources.” What I like most about this site is how easy it is to navigate by topics and to ask questions of subject matter experts when you need an answer.

Additionally, this site has a wealth of training content – articles about professional development, training directories, self-study materials and more. It’s not a collection of canned stuff that you’ve seen before. Instead, the site supports interaction between members and expert panelists to answer all sorts of questions related to business. They have 25 special interest and professional communities. So whether you’re a college student, a first-time manager, or an executive leader, you’ll find relevant content and forum discussions that are easy to access and genuinely helpful.

There’s a lot on this site, organized and offered in a way that’s very appealing and simple. It’s all free and there’s no hidden agenda – no one will try to sell you anything!

If you like business articles and are looking for a library of articles, videos and resources that is constantly updated, you will enjoy this site. Business articles are grouped into 33 topics.  Authors include Donald Trump, Zig Ziglar, Seth Godin, and many others who offer new insights. Articles about diverse subjects like public relations, productivity, technology, finance and more are all sorted and searchable by topic, country, and industry. You can also find discussions and resources by themed topics like “overcoming adversity,” “branding and reputation,” “getting your big break,” and more.

This site is searchable without a membership and without paying any fees.

This is the website for the American Management Association. AMA conducts dozens of professional training seminars on soft skills and transferable skills like conflict resolution, project management, time management, strategic planning and much more. The seminars are top notch but they can be pricey, especially if you have to travel to participate.

That’s where this website comes in. There are no-cost research papers, articles, podcasts and webinars available here. For a small membership fee (the e-membership), you can access much more that is no-cost or low-cost. You can also access on-line training in many of the same areas of interest that live seminars cover. The caliber of content and abundance of practical resources make the membership fee a good investment.

This is a good resource for anyone in business, but I think it’s especially valuable for sales reps and cross-functional team members who need to get “up to speed” on business acumen and industry knowledge quickly. Contributing authors have posted articles in 64 narrow categories like supply chain management, intellectual property, mergers & acquisitions, succession planning, innovation, etc. Additionally, external sources are linked in 52 categories, adding information about topics like vision, balanced scorecards, mentoring, ethics, and globalization.

One of the best features of this site is the glossary of business terminology. Words from many industries are defined here in laymen’s terms and include abbreviations and ways that the terms are commonly used.

No fees, no registration and no membership requirements make this a “why not?” resource to add.

This is the site that offers “essential skills for an excellent career.” You’ll find self-assessment tools, “bite-sized training” of one-hour online courses, expert interviews, a mentoring network, articles and more – with new content added daily. There’s a cool app that you can download, too, to make the access and learning portable.

Some of the content here is free (see the Toolkit menu), but the paid access is well worth the investment. With an introductory offer of just $1 for a full month, you can check out the paid tools before you make any longer term commitment. When you do sign up, you’ll receive some nifty bonus tools. Since you can cancel the membership at any time, this is low risk and high value.

These five sites made my cut. I find myself going here instead of starting with a general browser search for business information, and I like the variety and quality I’ve been finding. By diversifying where I search, I’ve expanded my knowledge base and reduced my information overload.

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