Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Use of Blogs to Support Professional Activities

I find it interesting that there is still resistance among professionals to blogs and the use of blogging as a professional tool.

I now use blogs in two main ways.

At a personal level I have found them a very time effective way of keeping in professional touch. This was very important early this year because I was feeling very stale and isolated, wondering if my own professional competency had gone stale in the face of other pressures.

At the time I started really focusing on blogging I had not fully realized the fundamental change that had already taken place in the blogosphere, the fact that a remarkable number of professionals around the world were using blogs for discussion, as a marketing tool, as a way of promoting their ideas. Further, because they posted so frequently, in many cases 3-5 times per week, there was a currency to their comments making it easy to see trends. In addition, the comment facility on blogs allowed for a degree of response and interaction, making knowledge transfer easier while also building contacts.

Perhaps the most important feature of blogging at this level is the way it acts as a huge information screening device. Most bloggers look round their world for things of interest to them and then include links in their posts. I presently monitor some fifteen key blogs on a daily basis, quickly scanning to look for things of interest. Given average post patterns, this means that I scan up to 12 posts per day, reading some in more detail. The 12 posts will probably contain up to 30 links, of which I will click through on 3-4 and again scan. 30-40 minutes per day keeps me in touch in a way that is simply not possible with either conventional web searches or the print media.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that blogs have taken over as a key information resource for so many professionals. Certainly I no longer feel either stale or isolated. I know that my professional competency still stands up on a global basis, and that’s not a bad thing to know.

The second way that I have been using blogs is the more time consuming one, as a publishing and promotional device. My conclusion is positive, although the lead times involved in getting sufficient content up to attract interest and be credible are substantial, far more than I had expected. You really have to post several times a week to achieve impact. It is also important to post comments on other blogs. One side effect of all this is the establishment of contacts with fellow professionals.

Given these positive experiences, I would strongly encourage all professionals to experiment with blogs and blogging.

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