Dear Sam: I enjoy writing, even though my job is more technical. Friends, who also are just starting in their career have recommended that I begin blogging or posting to LinkedIn. Is that a good idea or could it hurt my career as I look to climb the ladder?— Dan
Dear Dan: Blogging can undoubtedly lend credence to your areas of emerging expertise. I would perhaps question the ‘why’ behind the desire to blog or the suggestion by your friends to start publishing your thoughts. Are you trying to position yourself as a future consultant? Are you seeking to represent yourself with an increased presence for an upcoming job search? Blogging should be entered into with some forethought of who your audience is, what views you are expressing, and what the purpose is behind your efforts.
Also, I would want to make sure that anything you publish is thoroughly reviewed and proofread as the strength of your written communications will be evaluated just as much as the content of your messages. Lastly, be sure you don’t mind your thoughts following you for your entire career. For instance, let’s say you use a specific software package at work or have a particular affinity for a certain technology tool, and, in your blog, you state your preference. Now, fast forward five years and that other company could come calling with an offer for an interview and, just maybe in their vetting process, they will find your brand preference from an earlier writing you forgot about; do you see the dilemma? I want you to be very thoughtful about what you publish, for obvious reasons.
If you are seeking to blog as a job seeker, that can be a great way to demonstrate subject mastery. I have seen lots of job seekers use LinkedIn’s post and article capabilities to share professional wisdom. Hence, don’t think you necessarily have to develop an entire platform exclusively for your thoughts; you might be able to do the same thing on an already existing platform with an embedded audience. If you don’t think blogging is the right direction for you at this juncture in your career, instead perhaps join groups and follow companies of interest on LinkedIn and be an active contributor to those digital discussions. Of course, you will want to follow the same rules in terms of representing your professional candidacy at all times with any comment that you make, but this can be a softer entry into the publishing arena.
In brief, a blog could help you in these five ways:
1. Establish you as a thought leader in your space.
2. Promote your candidacy for new opportunities.
3. Establish you as a teacher and as a possible team leader.
4. Expand your network and opportunities to connect with peers.
5. Build your presence on professional powerhouse platforms like LinkedIn.
Beware, however, as a poor blog could hurt you by illustrating what you don’t know, showing a lack of prowess when it comes to writing skills, alienating a potential company of interest if your views differ, and even, perhaps, showing an inconsistency of follow-through if your blogging is sporadic. Hence, I encourage you to start if you evaluate you have the expertise, time, and knowledge to deliver thoughtful messages regularly. If not, then perhaps use comment features on other blogs and company posts as a way to reinforce your emerging expertise. Happy writing!