Saturday, February 4, 2012

Leveraging The Blog To Improve Career Readiness

In recent weeks, I have been thinking and writing more on blogging. Today is no different. However, in this entry I would like to spend a few minutes sharing something I've learned from live blogging events. Then, as a result of that lesson, I will outline four takeaways to improve your readiness as an employee or student.

Self Observation: Live Blogging Over Summarized Highlights
During the process of writing my most recent blog entry, I noticed that I spent a great deal of time and energy trying to complete it. Looking back, I would guess that it took around two hours to finish, but it failed to provide any real substance. Where were the details?

Instead of offering my readers solid nuggets of information, I merely summarized the evening into a few paragraphs. That's nice but I can do better.

In contrast to the article Triangle Social Media Club Hosts Panel Discussion on Social TV, my live blogging efforts do a far better job of digging deep into a topic. This got me thinking. What is it about live blogging that I like so much? Why is it easier to write? Below are a few thoughts on the matter.

Greater Detail
In comparing my live blog articles to those written after the fact, I notice a difference in the details. Live blogging allows me the opportunity to capture the finer points of the event, idea, or interview. I can easily capture names, statistics, and references almost as quickly as they are introduced. Unfortunately, trying to recall specifics after the event often leads to broad generalizations, summaries, and even omissions. The further away one gets from an event, the fewer details we remember.

Active vs. Passive
Writing in the moment offers me the authority to speak in an active or present tense. Live blogging lets me explain how the subject feels now versus how one felt yesterday. Tomorrow, one may no longer think or feel the same as they do today because things change.

Live blogging often captures an idea in a conversational way. In thinking about C3 Church and the live blog I write for them, I find that Pastor Matt Fry delivers his message as if we were talking in the hallway. To me, it's more interesting and engaging. When I compare the live blog to an article I write after the fact, the summarized version reminds me of a boring news story written by a stiff robotic life form. It doesn't read naturally in the way a conversation does.

Faster To Market
One of the most refreshing things about live blogging is that I can release it almost immediately after the event is over. In most cases, I simply review the document for minor edits and then publish it, whereas writing the traditional blog can take hours or even days.

Improve Your Readiness As An Employee or Student 
There is nothing novel about live blogging or my aforementioned observations. However, there is something exciting about understanding yourself. That moment when you realize that you do your best work late at night is the moment when the world of opportunity reveals itself to you. Changing your work habits to better fit your natural tendencies and abilities is exciting.

As an employee or student, it is important to stay up-to-date on the latest information and be ready to deliver your ideas, along with supporting documentation, at a moments notice. How? you ask. A blog, I reply.

In the following section, I would like to offer four steps toward improving your readiness.

Capture It
At the most basic level, it all begins with an idea. Thankfully, both you and I are full of ideas, right? The difference between a really great idea and your success comes by way of doing something with it. Therefore, step number one is to capture the idea.

There are many ways to achieve this step, here are a few I came up with:

  • Take minutes during a meeting 
  • Live blog an event, speech, or interview
  • Record your ideas as a voice note on your mobile phone
  • Take a picture of something memorable and inspiring
  • Record a video response to an article you just read
  • Leave a message on your voice mail
  • Write them down in notebook that you keep with you at all times
It doesn't matter at this stage how you capture the idea, just make sure that you do. To help you master this step, remember the following things:

  • It doesn't have to be perfect
  • Keep it simple
  • Edit after its done
  • Capture the idea as quickly as possible so as to keep the essence of that moment
  • Capture everything, even the small stuff
Put It In Writing
Now that you have the idea recorded somewhere, put it in writing. Unfortunately, some find this to be the most challenging part of the process, but I think it's also one of the most important. Below, I list a few reasons why putting your ideas in writing is essential.

Easily Searchable: For starters, the written word is easier to find when visitors use search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Therefore, if you want to find your relevant ideas quickly, then you need to transform the content found in your audio, video, notebook, and images into blog text.

People Often Skim: Another advantage of putting your content into writing is that it's easier for you to skim. Based upon my own consumption habits, I can tell you with certainty that users are not reading every word you write. With the use of headers, italics, and bold text, you and your visitors scan the page for the most interesting and relevant parts. One cannot do that in video or audio clips.

Group It With Like Items
The third step in the process of readiness is to properly organize your written ideas for quick retrieval. As mentioned in the previous step, the search engine helps connect readers to content. However, it is also beneficial to organize your ideas based on categories. If you need to find all your articles on time management, use tags to group stories based on subject matter.

Build On It
The final step in being ready is to build on your earlier work. As you gather ideas and write articles on those particular topics, you may eventually establish an impressive body of work that offers significant value to readers, your boss, or instructor.

In the beginning you may only have a hand full of articles on a topic, but consider writing an article that lists them as valuable resources (i.e. Top 10 list or Best of series). Continue to write and you may transform those Best Of articles into a small eBook, policy, or report. Subsequent work can only help you develop full blown books, manuals, position papers, and research documents. The possibilities are endless.

Final Thought
Being a productive employee and/or student with relevant information requires preparation. Using the steps outlined above will help you take great ideas and expand upon them. Even if you never use the idea for work or school, know that blog visitors may thoroughly enjoy them. Additionally, the blog offers feedback and community, which may only serve to vet your ideas. Blogging is both fun and rewarding, but that can also be true of a traditional media.

In this article, I shared lessons stemming from my live blogging experience and offered four steps to help you ready yourself for career or educational pursuits. Let me know how it works out for you in the comment section below.

Image by:  phantomswife


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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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