The most trusted resources every IT pro should know

The second of Microsoft’s Ignite Your Career Webcasts focused on “Discovering Your Trusted Resources,” which involved a great discussion on blogs, Twitter and crowdsourcing. If you listened carefully, though, we were really talking about highly reputable people whose opinions matter.

As I said in my closing remarks, I think the technologies and tools just provide ways to connect to those people. It was only afterwards that I realize we don’t really use trust around resources in IT that much. Look at your browser’s toolbar. When you find a Web site you like, you organize it under something called “Favourites.” If we used the word “Trusted” instead, how would that change what we put under there?

I think “trusted” to an IT professional means that the resource in question will be honest. I think it means that the information conveyed by that resource will be based on fact, and has a proven track record of solving problems or clarifying important issues. It also means that something about that resource sets it apart from all the other resources out that focusing on the same topic or issue, whether it be online, at an event or someone in the office down the hall. A trusted resource is often discovered by accident but validated with careful, time-consuming evaluation.

We focused a lot on the online tools in the Webcast, but I realized later that no one mentioned their staff as a trusted resource. This is the one we actually have the power to influence, develop and turn into the kind of resources trusted by others as well. No one mentioned their boss, but ideally our managers should be trusted resources that inspire us and guide us, particularly during these difficult economic times. No one mentioned their customers – the people who not only buy things but give us valuable feedback about what works and what doesn’t, and shape so much of our strategies.

It says something about the age we live in that no one mentioned the media, which may not have the self-interest of bloggers or Twitterati but who strive to make sense of our world in whatever vehicle an audience chooses – broadcasting, print, online or multimedia. This is something our media brands try to do, I guarantee you.

The ultimate trusted resource? Our memories. Every project we worked on, every client we meet, every mistake we make is stored in the one repository that never gets upgraded but is configured exactly as it should be. More than anything we bookmark, set up a feed for or attend, we tap into our memories and often use them as the basis for the most important decisions. Using your memory effectively – as a real resource – is what separates successful people from the failures. Trust me.

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