A large number of information professionals are employed by colleges, universities, associations, and corporations, and gain experience in full-time staff positions before starting their own businesses. Those who work for themselves contract with a number of different kinds of businesses and organizations. People seeking marketing information make the most use of the services of information professionals. Attorneys, consulting firms, public relations firms, government agencies, some television and movie production companies, and private investigators also hire researchers. With the Internet, a researcher can work anywhere in the country, serving clients all around the world. However, living in a large city will allow an online researcher better access to more expansive public records when performing manual research.
People become researchers through a variety of different routes. They may go into business for themselves after gaining a lot of experience within an industry, such as in aviation or pharmaceuticals. Using their expertise, insider knowledge, and professional connections, they can serve as a consultant on issues affecting the business. Or they may become an independent researcher after working as a special librarian, having developed computer and search skills. The one thing most researchers have in common, however, is extensive experience in finding information and presenting it. Once they have the knowledge necessary to start their own information business, online researchers should take seminars offered by such organizations as the Association of Independent Information Professionals.
The first few years of any business are difficult and require long hours of marketing, promotion, and building a clientele. Advancement will depend on the online researcher's ability to make connections and to broaden his or her client base. Some researchers start out specializing in a particular area, such as in telephone research or public record research, before venturing into different areas. Once they're capable of handling projects from diverse sources, they can expand their business. They can also take on larger projects as they begin to meet other reliable researchers with whom they can join forces. Becoming certified through the Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals organization can also give clients in this segment of the industry more confidence in your skills and abilities.
Tips for Entry
Obtain a job at an established information brokerage. You will gain valuable experience you can use when you're ready to launch your own business.
Join a professional association. In addition to providing you with good tips and advice, these organizations are often the first to hear about job needs and prospective clients.
A Web site is an absolute necessity for anyone launching an information business. Since clients can be located worldwide and often search for companies and services via the Internet, it is important to have a professional-looking Web site that can help you market your services.
The Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP) offers several useful resources for those just starting out in the field at its Web site, http://aiip.org/discover.
The AIIP offers a mentoring program for new members. Visit http://www.aiip.org for more information.