Like any of our bloggers, we too have to be intentional about keeping the content of this blog current. I decided to take some of our own advice and practice a little online listening. In the process I found a great post on the very subject. Gabriella Sannino writes in How To Get Great Blogging Ideas From Social Media about the importance of listening in generating content ideas.

Social media is a window into your target audience; it’s a constant flow of their thoughts, ideas, concerns, needs, wants, and so on.

She also touches on an important element of the act of listening:

Of course, if you’re going to pay attention to those you follow, it behooves you to make sure you’re following the right people, doesn’t it?

It’s easy for social media channels to be crowded and noisy. Trying to hear all the voices can be the online equivalent of going to a crowded coffee shop and hoping that you’ll overhear some interesting conversation that will lead to a business opportunity. It’s theoretically possible, but not very likely.  On the other hand, you stand a much higher chance of success going to a networking event for your area of expertise and talking with people who share common interests. Use that same approach when listening online and target your approach to your interests and expertise. The other key piece of advice Gabriella offers is to inject a little discipline into the process. It’s easy to think you’ll get around to that social media thing eventually, but the reality is setting specific goals is the true path to success.

You have to treat social media listening as a business process. Set up a routine. Discipline yourself to committing one-to-two hours per day on your research and development.

The good news is that you don’t have to try and use every social media tool starting today. Any one of the many tools available can be a portal to finding and following connections. If Facebook isn’t your cup of tea, try using groups in LinkedIn. Don’t have time for either of those? Maybe Zite on your iPad is a better option. As for this post, I used Tweetdeck to search twitter on blogging subjects. Whatever tool you choose, just be sure that listening is as much a part of your routine as sharing – you’d be surprised at what gem you might find when you do.