Seven Reasons Professionals Should Blog

Do you like to express your opinions and discuss them with others? Do you have thoughts and ideas that deserve to be shared with the world? If so, it’s time to ask yourself “why haven’t I started blogging yet?” For you, blogging is the best thing to happen since the Internet began. Blogging existed before social networks – and the rise of social networking has only served to amplify the impact of the blogging community.

When it comes to blogging, it’s easy to get mired in the details. Language, frequency of writing, whether you will attract readership or not, etc. are all part of the maze that confuses people about blogging. Blogging is not about having the language skills to win the Pulitzer Prize or having an audience of 100,000 from day one. Blogging is simply about sharing your ideas with the world.

Even professionals – engineers, managers, lawyers, doctors – can benefit from blogging. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that blogging can play an important and crucial role in their career. True, blogging takes time away from a busy schedule, but so does anything that begins with an aim to have a positive result. Like all good things that happen, it takes time and effort.

From my personal experience, I’d like to share the following reasons I think professionals should be serious about blogging.

1. Blogging Improves Your Knowledge of Your Field

Blogging is about explaining your ideas, showcasing your knowledge and sharing your opinion. In the process of doing so, you need to refer to many sources to support your opinions. Doing so not only increases your knowledge about the subject, but also gives you insight into different perspectives on the topic.

2. Blogging Improves Your Communication Skills

Many professionals refrain from blogging under the pretext that their personal writing style isn’t suitable or that their language skills are inadequate. In writing, as with other activities, one gets better by practice. Though good style is important, blogging isn’t as much about that as it is about conveying your idea.

As you work on articulating your thoughts into words, you’ll find that the process helps align your thoughts better and improves your ability to express yourself. You’ll be able to concisely formulate undefined thoughts into proper phrases.

3. Blogging Establishes You as a Thought Leader

Ever notice something in common about the thought leaders in various industries? They have been identified in that position by the opinions and ideas that they have shared with the world. They have become the “go-to” person whenever anyone seeks an important opinion regarding their industry.

Bloggers are in a similar situation. As you keep blogging and sharing your ideas, eventually you can become a “go-to” person in your areas of expertise. The initial readership of your blog might be small, but over a period of time if you keep at it, your community of followers will grow and so will your value in the industry.

4. Blogging Can Help You with Your Career

One you have established yourself as a thought leader, you never know what opportunities might knock on your door. It might be in the form of a new job, investor, clients, publishers or someone else entirely. Blogging certainly acts as a career booster.

Let me assist with a personal example. Way back in my 6th semester of engineering, I started with a design blog. Whatever designs I learned from tutorials I would post in it.

By the time I completed my engineering, I had received a good number of freelance works in referral from my design blog. Today, the same continues with my business blog.

5. Blogging Helps Build Powerful Connections

If you’ve been using internet for quite some time, you’ll know the role bloggers play. Many of the most-visited websites in the world are blogs, run by either a single person or a group of bloggers. Just like IEEE is there for engineers, there are various formal and informal groups of bloggers across the globe.

If you are contributing valuable insights relative to your field, there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to build contacts with some of the big time bloggers and players in your industry. This is a much better option than flying around the world and sharing your business card.

6. Blogging Builds Your Personal Brand

To distill the above points above into a single one – blogging immensely helps build your personal brand. Most professionals work hard because they want to be successful and well-known in their field. Blogging aids that by making small celebrities out of regular professionals. It establishes you as an influencer.

7. Blogging Is Good For Self Evaluation

Self-evaluation (not from a philosophical point of view) is an important and rewarding activity for professionals. There arises a need to evaluate where you stand in the industry after a certain period of time, relative to your peers. Once you start blogging regularly, after some time look back at the posts you wrote in the early days. Has your writing style evolved? Are you analyzing topics more deeply? Has your work experience moulded your writing abilities from a more practical aspect?

These are the questions you’ll be able to answer, which will eventually help you analyze your progress.

If you’re still in doubt, I’d recommend you simply try it. Just DO IT! Everyone feels weird writing their first blog post – and their second, third, and fourth too. But eventually, once you start realizing the authenticity blogging brings, you’ll be amazed at how empowering blogging can be.

Article contributed by Vijay S. Paul, IEEE member and blogger at http://vijayspaul.com.

Being Successful in Spite of the Economy

“Sorry, but it’s a rough economy right now, so don’t expect a significant pay raise.” Since I began work five years ago, I have heard a chorus of such remarks almost every year – as have many other graduates of the last decade I suppose. Only the root cause of this economic uncertainty has changed: first the dot-com bubble in early 2000, next the attacks of September 11 2001, after that the financial crisis in 2007, followed by the Greek debt crisis in 2009… the list goes on. These days it seems impossible to isolate one’s career completely from economic crisis, so another question is: how do I manage my career when the economy flattens out?

It is said in Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” that anyone who excels in defeating his enemies triumphs before his enemy’s threats become real. In other words, you saddle today and ride out tomorrow. This advice holds true for anyone, and means you should never settle for the skills you currently have, whatever the economic context. Instead, you should try to acquire new skills either by training or by practical experience. The more skills you have, the easier it will be to move in case of crisis, whether to a different job or even a different line of business. At the same time, you should take care not to spend too much time or money in any training. This kind of investment should be planned as carefully as a house purchase, as the rest of your career depends on your choice. For example, depending on the cost, some e-learning or conferences may constitute a better investment for a career than many degrees if they offer new or valuable competences.

The second tip is directly linked to the first point. To enhance your career flexibility, it is important to stay informed of major changes in your chosen fields. “Major change” could mean a new technology, regulations or even economic news. Of course the goal is not to be an expert in all topics. Indeed, you can assume that new technologies are taught in universities, so new graduates have the advantage here. The point is rather to be in a state of forecasting the direction of technology and the industry. This way, you can position yourself to help evolve a company in the direction of new technological trends. In short, be a part of the link between today and tomorrow.

Sometimes geographical mobility may help you avoid a crisis. The automotive market is declining in Europe? It is growing in China and North America. Crises that affect all sectors worldwide are not frequent, contrary to what many may say. Of course, this international mobility requires open-mindedness and a willingness to move. But if you have both, you have an excellent advantage over others. Therefore, English language skills are necessary but not sufficient: you have a better chance of success if you have a good command of one or two other languages, or at least a willingness to try them.

Last but not least, it is important to keep in mind that frequently changing your employer may work against you in the long term. Even if you are able to increase your salary when changing companies, your responsibilities may be similar to those you had at your former employer. Doing this repeatedly can make you look like a mercenary who cares more about money than career evolution, unless you are given greater responsibility in your new company. Most directors in my company who have switched companies spent between five and ten years with each institution. So loyalty is still rewarded today, but it means you must stand firm through the crises.

Based on my humble experience, following the advice I have given here is an excellent way to progress in your career. In other words, some taste for adventure, open-mindedness, curiosity, patience and perseverance will be valued allies on the road to success.

Article contributed by Adama Ba, IEEE France Section member