Last week Doris outlined four free online learning choices: blogs, MOOCs, projects and networks. All can be important components of your online entrepreneurial or organizational learning portfolio depending on your learning plan, goals, and needs. Blogs can be an important part of doing business by engaging with others.
Everyone is familiar with blogs that chronicle the personal opinions, mundane activities, or other daily life doings of the “all about me” blogger. In this networked age, however, these types of blogs are being supplanted by ones that promote collaborative thinking and discussion. Ernesto Priego, in his blog in the Higher Education Network puts it this way: “I would argue that blogging and social media empower the individual to have a voice and that this voice only becomes meaningful when it addresses, listens to and engages with others.”
Euan Semple states in his blog from December, 2013, Why blogging still matters in business – and always will.: “It’s not about marketing, or SEO, or “going viral”. It is not about internal “enterprise social” or external “social media” It is not even about the platforms or tools on which you choose to write. It is much simpler and much more powerful. It is about developing our awareness, our communication skills, and our collective intelligence. It is about thinking harder and writing better. Blogging is a means by which to rediscover your voice, to learn to share your thoughts with others, and by doing so to help us all get smarter faster.”
John Stepper suggests Working Out Loud – your personal content strategy. He advocates for blogging about what you are working on and inviting readers to comment, suggest improvements, give advice. He quotes Bryce Williams who coined the term “working out loud” and defined it this way: “Working out loud = Narrating your work + Observable work” For Bryce, narrating your work is “journaling…what you are doing in an open way.” And making your work observable is “creating/modifying/storing your work in places that others can see it, follow it, and contribute to it IN PROCESS.”
The “in process” goes both ways: you work out loud, you engage with other bloggers who are working out loud on topics or processes of interest to you. They comment on your work, you on theirs, and you develop a useful, trusted network of business advisors, colleagues, online collaborators. Stepper points out an added bonus is that it becomes easy to blog because you are writing about what you are working on, eliminating the dreaded “what can I write about” syndrome.
Promoting your business through blogs and social media won’t disappear, but blogging to improve your business, not just market it, results in learning with others, reflecting on the process and content of new learning, and sharing that learning so the cycle of continuous improvement can keep rolling. Learn, lead, connect online (the WLS tag line!).
Semple ends his blog with these words: “…with a business blog, whether internal or external, we have a place to play. We can make the blog our own and we can write with our own voice. We can learn to notice more and value our insights. We can learn to use plain language and say what we mean. We can write in a way intended to be read by others like us and in doing so encourage them to follow our lead. We can together raise the prospect of reinventing business writing – and not a moment too soon!”
Have you tried working out loud through a blog? What were the benefits and challenges you experienced? What advice for other “out loud” bloggers do you have?