Blogging: Take the on-ramp

2008-07-22 00:00

Blogging is a great on-ramp into the work world. For students about to graduate, for parents who took time off, for anyone who wants to change careers without taking a huge pay cut - blogging can make this time in life easier.

What are blogs?

A blog is like a web page that someone changes every day. The page is about ideas the writer of the blog has and the page usually includes links to information that influenced that person's thinking as he or she wrote the blog post. The layout of a blog is simple, which emphasises the fact that blogging is not about design and flashiness, but rather about ideas.

This is why people at the very top of the work-world pecking order are blogging - such as Fortune 500 chief executives. And people who used to charge for their writing are blogging, like the veteran journalists involved in the Boston-based blog Xconomy about technology and business.

Today people realise that an important exchange of ideas is going on online and if you want to lead that exchange, you need to be blogging.

Who is blogging?

Most people think of blogging as something that young children are doing when they should be studying. But in fact, the goal of the best blogs is summarised on the Xconomy blog: "To better connect people and ideas".

Coming up with fresh ideas all the time and commenting intelligently on other people's ideas is time consuming. So the people most likely to engage in blogs are people who are serious about their careers and serious about making their careers align with their lives. These are the arenas of our lives where we are willing to spend the kind of mental energy that blogging demands.

What's blogging good for?

* Networking: the best way to build a network is by exchanging ideas with interesting people. And this is what blogs are set up for. You can read someone's ideas and then comment on them. The conversation is what forges relationships and before you know it, you have a much stronger network from blogging than you ever could from more conventional, non-idea-based networking moments, like the exchange of business cards at a convention.

* Job hunting: the best parts of blogging is the high-quality people and engaged thinking that drives the people who participate. You can reach almost anyone in corporate life by going through a blog. Do you want a job at Microsoft? There are 6 000 bloggers there. Surely someone is blogging in the department you are interested in. So rather than sending a resume cold to the human resources department, you can engage one of the Microsoft bloggers in conversation over the course of a few weeks and then maybe ask for help getting a job.

* Staying ahead of the curve: trade publications used to be the standard way to find out about an industry. Today, small groups of bloggers in a given industry end up leading the way on trends and events in their industry. In order to keep up with what's going on in your field, read a few blogs about your arena on a daily basis.

Each industry has hotshots blogging. For example, the largest public relations firms all have bloggers (try Steve Rubel from Edelman), and most big consulting firms have bloggers. There are coal-mining bloggers and land-use bloggers (try Torbjorn Rive at Variable Interest). Find the people who blog on topics that matter to your career and follow their ideas.

"More and more of the conversation in almost any field is going on inside blogs. So if you're not plugged into blogs, you're probably missing out on a lot of that," said Wade Roush, the chief correspondent for Xconomy.

Where do you find the blogs?

The worst part of blogging is that there are millions of them out there. There are some great ones, but they can be hard to find.

Fortunately, Guy Kawasaki just launched Alltop, an index of the most popular blogs in the most frequently read categories.

The range of topics covered is breathtaking - fashion, investing, education, sports and science - because the range of blogging interests is so wide. But Alltop organises information chaos into manageable and inviting categories of information.

Blogging can change your life if you let it. The doors that blogging opens are doors that most of us had no access to just five years ago.


* Have you got a blog? The Witness is looking for interesting blogs. Send your URL to the webmaster.

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