A magazine article is only as good as its source. But breaking into unfamiliar territory to find the perfect source is no easy task. Where do you turn when searching for a source takes you on a wild goose chase? After a number of trials and errors, we’ve adopted a few general rules to help us find good sources fast.
Here are some tips that work for us:

Do your research: Before you start hunting for a source, it helps to devote some time to narrowing down a focus for your article. Otherwise you might end up doing all the legwork to set up an interview only to change your mind about the focus of your story and be forced to start again from square one.
Start broad:. A simple Google search of some keywords related to your topic will yield hundreds of results. For example, if you’re writing about the importance of business disaster plans, a keyword search of “business survives disaster” will yield hundreds of results, including businesses who have experienced disaster and came out on top—just make sure you start your search early enough that you can sift through the results without missing your deadline.
Find an expert: No matter what you’re writing about, there’s sure to be a well-informed expert who can provide some insight. Search for members of professional organizations, consult a college professor or find a book about your topic on Amazon.com or BN.com to find a knowledgeable author.
Consult your friends: Still having trouble finding a suitable source? Try posting a request for a source on social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or other Web communities. Usually, your Web friends will jump at the chance to recommend sources—and their recommendations could be a perfect fit for your story. When all else fails, we beg each other to help scour the Internet for the perfect source—and that method, I believe, hasn’t failed us yet.
[Photo credit: 3fold via Flickr]