Overwhelmed with information and nonstop technology? Help is on the way!

As a customer-focused media company, the mission of BNP Media and Supply House Times is to deliver information in ways that will improve your business and make your job easier and more efficient. Here are eight ways you can use new media to transform your business in 2008.

1. Go Online for Training and Certification.

Today, high-speed connections, in-house projection, enhanced software, improved two-way communication and experienced providers make Web-based training an attractive alternative to costly travel.

Most Webinars allow you to submit questions and answer them during a Q&A period. Providers often include video links as well as links to related Web sites. Many Webinars provide a course completion certificate, but you may need to take a short quiz.

2. Use Online Communities to Obtain Real-Time, Real-Life Answers.

Have you been avoiding You Tube, bulletin boards and blogs? Online communities provide free access to people like you who have tackled your challenges and can share how they succeeded or avoided pitfalls.

By offering useful information and problem-solving tips to the online community, you can gain trust and respect. Find trustworthy bulletin boards, blogs and communal spaces that focus on your industry.

3. Find Information With Lightning Speed.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a geeky way of saying “fast answers.” Google can be overwhelming when you pull up 101,234 results. Using the search functions of industry-specific Web sites via a vertical search can be more useful and save time.

Niche Web 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 more efficient. Visit the top Web sites in your field and bookmark those providing the best search results. Don’t forget to click on www.myplumbingportal.com.

4. Locate Products Quickly With Online Directories.

Most online directories allow searches by company name, product category or brand name and then provide a list of potential vendors.

While print directories remain excellent resources, online directories can be updated daily. Online directories also include links to supplier Web sites, spec sheets and even product videos.

5. Read Breaking News.

In just a few years, Web sites have become the number one “go to” source for a wide variety of information. Some 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. Focus on those that provide truly useful industry information.

Real Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds will alert you when certain news breaks on the Web. They require that you sign up for a reader and select the topics you want. Those articles collect until you access them.

Focus on those Web sites, e-newsletters and RSS feeds that best meet your needs and unsubscribe to the rest.

6. Study In-depth Content For Personal Development And Strategic Planning.

The Web offers content that will help you gain knowledge, perspective and leadership skills. Access archived articles stored on industry Web sites for concentrated study or in-depth analysis. Register if required to search Web sites for meaty data and expertise.

White papers provide thoughtful analyses on new products and procedures, often 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.

7. Conduct Business Online.

Many companies now require online purchase orders, applications, designs, specifications, bids, change-orders, credit checks and payments. A recent survey of subscribers to BNP Media publications found that most had company Web sites, but only 30% allowed customers to place orders online. Become e-commerce savvy. Promote your company as Web-friendly and make your Web site customer-driven.

8. Buy The Right Technology.

While iPhones, Blackberries, Windows Vista, or other technology can enhance your company’s ability to receive and relay information, the cost can put a strain on resources. Your IT staff may require significant ramp-up time and your users will need training. Consider skipping one or two generations of tech products, but then commit fully when you do jump in. Have everyone use the same version of the same product to enhance company-wide efficiency.