How can I help you?

I ask this question, not as a random offer of my services as an experienced information professional, but as an open question from a professional searcher in 2019. Seriously, how can I help you?

You have Google, you have Siri or Alexa, you have Google Translate, news sites, image sites, patent sites, market data and statistics (to a limited extent), company data, social media – all free and at your fingertips.

So why on earth would you employ someone like me? How can I possibly be useful and needed in this day and age? Google and friends have taken over, surely.

Perhaps I need to ask some questions in return:

  • How much time do you have to search for what you need?
  • Do you know where to look, or are you content to “Google it”?
  • Do you find what you need, or only succeed in “oh, that’ll do for now” results?
  • Do you ever use Google advanced search, verbatim, inurl: or other additional search tools and commands? Do you know how these can help speed up and strengthen your search?
  • Have you ever used Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yandex, DogPile, know what the differences are or why you should care?
  • How do you keep up to date? Do you suffer from FoMO in your work? Fear of missing out on some new technology, piece of research, company news, not knowing about a possible new start-up that’s just had funding which you could approach, or an existing large company that’s struggling in its market place and could do with some product innovation, a patent search or market intelligence to help spot the white space and revitalise its sales.
  • Are you confident that you know all the major players in a sector, say the top 50 or even 100? How’s the ranking changed since last year?
  • What about checking out a market to advise said client company – are you confident that you’re not going to be teaching grandma to suck eggs? Where’s that extra gem that they didn’t know about? After all, a company should be an expert in its own sector…shouldn’t it and yet, don’t you have to go a little beyond to impress?
  • How do you approach that company? Do you go the initial sales meeting feeling confidently armed with a comprehensive knowledge of the company and its strategic thinking, its latest recent activities or do you only have time to have a quick whizz around the website and a flick at the latest news and hope your sector expertise will impress enough?
  • Ever need to search the academic literature space? Happy with Google Scholar?
  • How’s your knowledge of your competitors? Are you “keeping up with the Joneses”, or might a rival be stealing a march on you? Do you know who they are?
  • Is your internal company knowledge utilised effectively for the benefit of the whole business?

Phil Bradley, in his book Expert Internet Searching (5th edition, 2017), describes effective internet searching as “part science, part art, part skill and part luck”. He also says that most of all “it’s an effective blend of different resources, search engines, apps, websites and a willingness to look for information wherever it might be, and for however long it takes”.

The information professional, super searcher, call us what you will (“fount of all knowledge” has also been used) understands the above and implements all those aspects, including a tenacity to keep at it. It means that even if the information required isn’t found then the information professional will be able to tell you why, eg. it’s available but only for a price or it’s not available and there’s no reason why it will be – this is especially true for a small US private company which has no legal obligation to file much about itself at all, but even then, there are ways, if you know where to look…

If none of my above questions bother you at all, then good luck and enjoy your searching. You’re right, you probably don’t need the likes of me any longer. Goodbye, The End, finis and this blog will be closing shortly. Thank you for your kind attention over the years.


If, on the other hand, my questions start to raise doubts about lost opportunities,  inefficient ways of working and wasted time and money, maybe that’s why my long-ago chosen profession is still around today, despite all the technological advances.

Phil also says, with reference to the above quote, that combining all those aspects “comes as no surprise to an information professional”, but “the average user will in all probability not have the experience, knowledge, understanding or tenacity (and I would add time) to blend those together into a successful search”.

We’re also pretty good at looking after the finances – so if you do need a premium resource, we make sure that the right sources are subscribed to via an extensive knowledge of what’s out there, evaluating and trialling, so that there is minimum duplication of content and also negotiating that contract down to a sensible price.

At the end of the day I exist only to serve: to make sure you have the information and resources you need, when you need it, to do your job more successfully.

Let me know if I can help you.

(I might keep the blog open for a little longer.)

This entry was posted in Business and management, Information literacy, Psychology of search, Search engines and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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