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Quick tip: Build your own list of sources

Here’s how to save time researching your next white paper.

Build your own list of sources you trust, and go to them for insights.

I’ve said this before: Don’t start with Google.

Now I’m doubling down on that advice.

Develop your own list of trusted sources. Don’t rely on Google to find them.

This works especially well if you have a clear niche where you already know most of the key players and experts.

And it’d the same process any journalist working a “beat” has always used.

They find a source who makes time for them. Then they call them over and over for quotes and explanations.

Where to find sources?

If you’re an employee or you have a steady client, some of your best sources may be inside the company.

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And some may be outside, in places like these:

• Relevant trade associations
• Respected channel partners
• Knowledgable analysts and consultants
• Professors who know the industry
• Authors who’ve written on your topic
• Thoughtful bloggers

To help build your list, follow my tip about using Wikipedia to find primary sources and experts.

Of course, every source must meet all the criteria for timeliness, authority, and relevance. You can see more about my TARP criteria here.

The final factor—proximity—takes care of itself, since all your sources are drawn from the same vertical.

Keep building your list

Always retain your list, and expand it as you go.

Journalists use another trick to do this: They ask each source who else they should speak to.

Your first contact may even email the next to introduce you.

If they don’t, introduce yourself like this, “So-and-so recommended I speak with you…”

Dropping that name means you come in as a warm contact.

That makes your next source more likely to give you 20 or 30 minutes for a quick Zoom.

And if you have more than one niche, no problem. Keep a list of sources for each niche.

Thank you to Angie Gallop, the journalist who suggested this tip.


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About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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