Nonstop technology makes it hard to keep up with the quantity of information and how it’s delivered. Yet, fast-paced development of electronic media is what brings companies new ways to grow while saving time and money. Ignore it and you may be left behind while others take the lead.

To thrive in this high-tech environment amid a bombardment of information means learning to manage how and when you receive information. As a magazine heavily invested in print and electronic media,Process Heatingsuggests eight ways you can stay on top of, and benefit from, new media.

  1. Go Online for Training and Certification
    Online training has come of age and keeps getting better. Early attempts at webcasts and webinars were clunky, strained affairs. Fuzzy images and lost connections were the norm. Today, high-speed connections, in-house projection, enhanced software, improved two-way communication, and experienced providers make web-based training an engaging experience.

    Most webinars allow you to submit questions and answer them during a Q&A period. Providers often include video links, which can be entertaining, and related web sites so you can dig deeper. To earn continuing-education units (CEUs), you might need to take a short quiz, but many webinars provide a link allowing you to print a course completion certificate.

    Takeaway: Challenge your staff to use webcasts instead of costly travel and you’ll improve training.

  2. Use Online Communities to Obtain Real-Time, Real-Life Answers
    Perhaps you’ve avoided places like YouTube, bulletin boards and blogs because they seem more appropriate for newbies, techies or people without lives? In some cases, that’s true. But, for a growing number of people, an online community is now an essential source for business success.

    A huge benefit of an online community is free access to people just like you who have already tackled your challenges. Whether you are deciding on a new industrial boiler, repairing a conveyorized oven, struggling with temperature sensors that keep drifting, launching an initiative or revolutionizing your process, someone is waiting to tell you how he or she succeeded at that task -- or, equally valuable, which pitfalls to avoid. Many sites also offer video that shows you how to do it.

    Another aspect of community is the ability to build your reputation. Community participants don’t want a sales pitch (spammer!), but they respect you for providing useful information and solving problems. Respect translates into trust, and trust translates into opportunities for your company.

    Takeaway: Find trustworthy bulletin boards, blogs and communal spaces that focus on your industry. You’ll benefit by engaging with sharp-minded, impassioned participants.

  3. Find Information with Lightning Speed
    Search engine optimization is a geeky way of saying “fast answers.” If you are even a bit web savvy, you’ve Googled something. But Google can be overwhelming when you pull up 101,234 results.

    A better option is a vertical search -- using the search functions of industry-specific web sites. Niched sites are more targeted and eliminate fluff. Some, like BNP Media’s sites, license Google technology for speed but limit the search to a highly defined universe of data, making your search vastly more efficient.

    Takeaway: Visit the top web sites in your field and bookmark those providing the best search results. You’ll save a ton of time.

  4. Locate Products Quickly with Online Directories
    Finding products poses a problem when you need specific items to complete a project. Online directories are a great solution. Most allow you to enter a company name, product category or brand, and then provide a defined list.

    You may love your print directories, and you may ask, “Why use an online directory?”

    Print directories remain excellent resources, but they are updated annually, whereas online directories can be updated daily. Online directories also include links to supplier web sites, spec sheets and even product videos.

    Takeaway: Keep your print directories handy, but visit their online versions for even more updated and comprehensive information.

  5. Read Breaking News
    Whether you’re a leader in your company or headed up the ladder, staying informed is an asset to your career.

    • Some web sites are updated daily, while others languish for weeks. Limit your visits to sites that are updated frequently and offer professional coverage.

    • Electronic newsletters offer a big advantage because they come to you. You don’t have to do anything. E-newsletters have proliferated, so focus on those that provide truly useful industry information.

    • Real simple syndication (RSS) is a way to ensure you are alerted whenever certain news breaks on the web. Using an RSS feed requires you to sign up for a reader program such as Live Bookmarks and select the topics you want. Article on those topics collect until you access them.

    Takeaway: Avoid news overload. Focus on web sites, e-news and RSS feeds that best meet your needs and unsubscribe to the rest.

  6. Study In-depth Content for Personal Development and Strategic Planning
    While the web is fantastic for immediacy, it is equally strong in providing content that will help you obtain comprehensive knowledge, perspective and leadership skills.

    • Archived articles stored on industry web sites allow for concentrated study of a topic or in-depth analysis of an expert’s opinions.
    • White papers allow you to read thoughtful analysis on new products, procedures or technology, often complete with statistics and projections.
    • Syndicated research can help you maintain a high level of expertise on a topic or industry, and provides insight for strategic planning.

    Takeaway: Search web sites for meaty data and expertise. If required, register to gain access to highly valuable information that others may miss.

  7. Conduct Business Online
    E-commerce is more than a buzzword. Many companies now require online purchase orders, applications, designs, specifications, bids, change-orders, credit checks and payments. A recent survey conducted among subscribers to BNP Media publications shows that 30 percent allow customers to place orders online.

    Takeaway: Embrace this trend by becoming e-commerce savvy. Promote your company as web-friendly, making sure your web site is customer-driven, and you will be rewarded.

  8. Buy the Right Technology
    Your staff may be clamoring for iPhones, Blackberries, Windows Vista or other technology. While these products can enhance your company’s ability to receive and relay information, new technology produces a strain on resources. Your IT staff may require significant ramp-up time and users will need training.

    Takeaway: A good solution is to skip one or two generations of tech products, but commit fully when you do jump in. Having everyone using the same version of the same product enhances company-wide efficiency.