We’re closing in on nearly a year of blogging here at The People Equation. It’s been a fantastic journey, one that Alexia Petrakos (aka The WPChick) recently chronicled in a case study. (Thanks, Alexia, for helping launch the blog!) Blogging has opened up my professional horizons and increased my visibility within the online community. It’s led to some great opportunities, including a stint as an Office Politics Advisor and a feature article on Forbes.com last month. Still, when talking with my non-blogging work colleagues, I shy away from mentioning that I write a blog. Why? I’m not sure, but somewhere in my mind, there’s a stubborn perception: “Blogging isn’t real work.”
Tonight, at the inaugural meeting of the West Michigan Inforum Social Media Affinity Group, I’ll have a chance to break out of that mindset once and for all. I’m honored to have been asked to participate in a panel discussion along with four social media and corporate communication professionals: Laura Bergells, Nemo Chu, Cindy Droog, and Bob Taylor. Event organizer Penny Rosema asked me to discuss how blogging has helped build my professional brand.
Here’s an expanded version of what I shared with the audience:
Blogging can provide any business professional with a key competitive advantage: expert status. Whether you are marketing your small business, building your portfolio in a corporation, or even job seeking, it’s beneficial to be seen as an expert in your chosen field. In my mind, the correlation looks like this:
Expert Status –>Leads to –> Increased Opportunity
Here’s the great thing about blogs. You don’t have to expend the effort to create your own blog; you can leverage someone else’s blog. If you become aware of influential bloggers in your area of expertise, you can then invest just 30 minutes a week making comments on those blogs to build your credibility and your visibility. You benefit by gaining visibility and the blog owner benefits from your expertise.
Yes, I did say “post comments”. In order for this to work, you must participate. The purpose of most blogs is to invite conversation, which requires that you join in. Being “visible” is part and parcel of being a member of the online community. When I say be “visible” I don’t mean “let it all hang out”. Rather, I mean be confident in your ability to share your well-considered and diplomatic business-related content with the world. If you read a post and have additional information or an opinion to share, then by all means, do so! A word of warning: “selling” of any sort, rants and general “TMI” sharing does nothing to help you build your status as an expert.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips to get you going:
- Find relevant blogs: Google “Top blogs + [fill in your industry key words]”
- Put 4-5 blogs you like into your Google Reader
- Set up a few Google Alerts regarding your specific keywords
- Invest 30 minutes per week reading scanning blog posts. Write 2-3 comments per week.
- If you enjoy writing, you can take it a step further: some blogs have a “guest post” tab or sidebar. If you have relevant content to contribute, don’t hesitate to ask to submit a guest blog post. Most blogs have reasonable editorial standards; it’s not as difficult as you might think.
- Not a big fan of writing? Ask to feature a blogger’s article for your newsletter, or some other source of written media. Bloggers are typically receptive to having their content shared, as long as you get permission and don’t alter their content or bylines.
- Are you a member of a LinkedIn group, Facebook or Twitter? Share business-related content from blogs that you found helpful with those groups. Go one step further and reach out to the blogger to let him/her know that you shared the content. Building relationships with bloggers is a great way to learn about other opportunities.
If you like to write (even just a little bit) and can overcome any shyness you might have about making public comments, using blogs can be an effective business tool to help you gain visibility and learn about developments in your field of business. I wish you great success!
Photo credit: istockphoto.com © Vaide Seskauskiene