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You probably come across information or resources online every day that could help you with projects and clients. But without the right tools and the right strategy, it can be difficult to capture those links in a way that will make them easy to use later.
Enter social bookmarking: free online services that allow you to save links to a personal library, organize them into folders or lists, tag them, make notes about them, search for them, and to selectively share them with others.
Social bookmarking can provide significant productivity benefits. Most notably, your social bookmarks can become your “back-up brain” for projects, allowing you to easily access relevant online information as needed, no matter when or how you found it. The trick is to do it in a way that links to your projects or clients.
Although social bookmarking isn’t new – one of the most popular services, Delicious.com, was launched in 2003 – it can be particularly useful for organizing an endless stream of potentially valuable information. Now owned by Yahoo, Delicious features improved search and usability, and offers a simple browser bookmark – a quick way to access interactive features via a URL you can save to your web browser’s toolbar to easy access from any page. There is also an iPhone/iPad app, and Droidlicious is a full Android app for Delicious.
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But Delicious isn’t your only option. Other social bookmarking tools include:
- Diogo: Its bookmarklet integrates with all popular web browsers to allow link saving, categorization, annotating, sharing and offline playlists without having to visit the Diigo website. You can also highlight or add sticky notes to web pages that become visible when you activate the bookmarklet.
Diigo’s own mobile apps primarily let you access links you’ve already bookmarked, but some third-party apps, such as Powernote for Android, let you add links to Diigo from your mobile device. An iPad app also supports mobile bookmarking.
- Clipboard: This visually appealing social bookmarking service lets you save screenshots and multimedia with sophisticated navigation, search, and functionality. Clipboard also offers web browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, a browser bookmarklet, and tools for visitors to easily clip and share content from your site. There are iPhone/iPad apps, but so far no compatible Android apps are available.
- Evernote: Although billed as a personal productivity and organization tool, you can also save, categorize, bookmark, share, and search for links through Evernote, specifically through the Clipper web browser extension and bookmarklet. iPhone, iPad and Android apps are available.
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When using social bookmarking for business, here are some tips:
Organize primarily by project or client, not by topic. Defining work-related context forces you to think up front about how you might use each interesting link. If your top level of organization (the folder, notebook, or list, depending on the department) reflects your top projects or clients, it’s also easier to view and use all relevant links for a specific assignment.
For example, an architect might be tempted to create themed link folders titled “code compliance,” “Craftsman style,” or “lighting.” But if he’s working on long-term projects, it might make more sense to label the records as “Henson Homes” or “Denver Housing Authority,” which refer to clients.
Use tags to designate topics or sub-projects. Social bookmarking services allow you to tag individual links with tags, which offer a different way to sort or search saved links and may be a better way to indicate topics. With a tag, the architect could always easily find all saved “Craftsman” links, regardless of the project he was working on at the time of saving the bookmark.
Tags can also designate sub-projects. For example, the architect can design homes for multiple neighborhoods in Denver and make each neighborhood name a label, providing secondary navigation for easy sorting.
Make your links private. If your social bookmarking service makes your links public by default, any other user of the service or the web could see potentially confidential information. So whenever you create a folder of work-related links, take a moment to make it private. (Most services offer this option and instructions on how to do it.) Also, share links or folders selectively, especially if you have confidential clients or notes.
Integrate with your mobile device. Entrepreneurs today are likely to come across potentially useful information online on a smartphone or tablet. When choosing a bookmarking service, make sure it offers tools to easily save and categorize links from your mobile device.
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