Welcome to Part II of my musings on how a blog can help you in your professional life. Before going any further, you might want to check out Part I if you haven't seen that already.
I'd also like to be more explicit about chicken/egg of interplay between our passion and commitment to the profession that blogging brings out and how that directly feeds into concrete reputation-building and the benefits that may result. In general, I believe that if you blog to become famous (in other words, to explicitly build your reputation, with cynicism not passion), that will be your reputation. If you blog to share and grow and explore, it's that passion that will hopefully influence your reputation-building efforts and that any concrete benefits that you accrue will reflect that.
Blogging isn't for everyone. Blog because it's what you want to do, not because you feel you have to.
That being said, I really I really like how bluntly Neville Hobson puts it: Your Blog is Your CV.
What do you want people to find out about you? Time to think about that. And if there’s anything you’ve posted about yourself that you’d rather clean up, let’s say, read Scoble’s post as it has some good advice on what to do to sort that out.
Hmm, let’s change the title of this post. This works better: Google is your CV.
Kyle Lacy also gives a couple of good nuts-and-bolts Top 10 lists of what we can learn from blogging, Ben Barden's and his own, in the post 20 Things We Have Learned from Blogging. Let's take a look at a couple from both lists:
1. You Need to Choose a Topic You Know and Like. (This is number one)
2. You need to enjoy Writing. (You need to enjoy thought promotion and learning. I hated writing before I started blogging. Just believe in what you are writing about)
6. You don’t usually get links by asking for them.
8. Your posts need to be different
10. You’ll meet some great people. (Amen)
4. Use Google Alerts for content ideas. It has worked for me numerous times.
6. Get out into the community and network offline. It will help build further support
7. You should always put your blog URL on your business card and email signature.
8. Always measure the time you are spending online. If the return is not there… switch up your strategy.
9. Do not focus too intently on content. Get the thing written and change it later.
Scientist David De Roure has a new blog and this is some of what his rationale is for blogging (and really, I can't think of a better way to explain the drive to blog that De Roure's): Reasons to be Blogging 1 2 3
But I want to. I lead a hectic (possibly crazy…) academic life where I get to work with experts in many disciplines - I get a unique, perhaps privileged, view of the world and it’s one I want to share. For example, when I’ve been in a good panel, there is information to be shared and debate to be continued too - time to blog. And from where I sit, not only do I get to see things but I get to see the connections between things - what better mechanism than a blog for communicating that interconnectedness? So for me it’s not ego, it’s duty and the appropriate tool.
And it’s part of my research - research is about connectedness and i want to understand how to achieve it. I see a compelling analogy between the informal communications of the great scientists of old - the “invisible college” communicating by letter and annotated book margin - and the emerging research practices of open science and Science 2.0. I see the benefit in understanding how the scholarly knowledge cycle can evolve, especially in the context of the shift to digital and data-centric research.
To sum up these two laundry list posts, to answer the questions of "why blog" or "isn't twitter better than real blogging", I really like what Hutch Carpenter has to say: Why Professionals Should Continue to Blog in the Era of Twitter. I'm only including the first of Carpenter's main points, but the whole post is terrific and definitely worth reading.
But blogs are the professional’s curriculum vitae. They are a standing record of strong thin king about a subject. When you devote the time to put together a blog post covering your field, you’re likely doing this:
- Linking to others
- Establishing your voice
- Influencing the thinking of others
- Showing the ability to pull together longer form thinking, a requirement in professional work
My own experience is that if you blog, every so often you pop out a signature piece. The kind of post that resonates with others and establishes your position in your field. These blog posts receive a lot of views, get linked to and turn up in Google searches. When you get one of these, congratulations! You have successfully put your flag in the ground for your field.
Tweets don’t do that. Tweets create a tapestry of someone, they foster ambient awareness. This has value in its own right. But they’re not vehicles for heavier thinking. They don’t demonstrate your capacity to size up an issue or idea and bring it home.
Keep in mind that LinkedIn now lets you add blogs to your professional profile. What’s going to be more valuable to you when people are running searches? Tweets or well-thought blog posts?
So, there we go. My feelings on blogging. Decide for yourself whether or not you could integrate blogging into your own professional development plan. It's definitely worth it for pretty well anyone to at least give it a try. And if you don't have a professional development plan, I have to say that blogging will help you define and refine your goals and interests. Believe it or not, just writing a little about a lot of different things really will help you figure out what's important to you.