On the campaign trail, then-vice-presidential-candidate Sarah Palin’s struggle to answer the question “What newspapers do you read?” drew criticism from voters and media pundits alike. Say what you will about the governor, but it’s a question that elicits either a positive or negative perception based on how you answer it. ??
Fortunately, there’s a way you can be proactive when it comes to sharing your reading list that can not only help you avoid “gotcha” questions, but can also be recognized as a quality information filter within your niche. It’s a feature of the popular Google Reader program, which can be used not only to read hundreds of news sources in one place, but also to share content with your colleagues, business partners, and customers. ??
There are a few ways to use Google Reader Shared Items. First, when you’re reading a story within Google Reader, at the bottom, there is a link that says “Share” and another that says “Share with Note.” When you click either of these options, all of your contacts on Google Reader will see the story, and if you add a note, they’ll see your commentary. But even if you read news outside of Google Reader, you can still use the feature, with a bookmarklet that lets you share any page you come across on the Web.??
While sharing information with your contacts can be useful, where Google Reader Shared Items get really interesting and potentially valuable for you and your business are the blog-like pages you get out of it. It contains every story you’ve shared, and includes a sidebar where you can include your biography, picture, and a link to your Google profile, which you can use to include links to your online presence. Additionally, visitors can subscribe to your shared items, thus being alerted every time you share something new. ??
To make your shared items easily shareable with people, you’ll want to get a unique URL for it (the URL Google gives you by default is long and unwieldy). The easiest way to do that is use a service like tinyurl.com, which will let you turn a long URL into a short one, which not only makes it easier to share on services like Twitter and instant messenger, but gives you a branded address for your reading list. To do it, simply use tinyurl’s “custom alias” field, which will make your Google Reader Shared Items page available at something like tinyurl.com/adamsnews/
Now that you’ve got your reading list online and an easy way to share it, add it to your social networking profiles, your website, or even your business cards. And next time someone asks you “What are you reading?” instead of saying “everything,” point them towards your new online reading list.