Why blogging is good for your career II

So I tracked back to 20 or so amazingly knowledgeable bloggers to get them to come to this post.  Perhaps this isn't the intended or accepted use of trackbacks, and they're certainly welcome to delete the trackback from their page if they feel it is inappropriate.  All I'm looking for is some feedback on this post which is very important to me. 

Shel Israel had a great idea when he posted his literary proposal on his blog to solicite feedback and I'm doing the same.  (Imitation being the sincerest form...)   Basically, I'm looking to write a book on blogging as a career development tool and the following is my literary proposal.  I welcome all contructive feedback.  Feel free to link to me or forward me around to friends, especially if they're in publishing.  I really think I have something here with this book, but I could definitely use the collective advice of The Blogosphere.  Thanks!!     -Charlie

____________________________________

Over four million people are doing it—up from a half million just a year ago.  John Kerry did it during the election.  Moby does it.  Al Roker does it, too.  It was the most searched term in Merriam Webster’s online dictionary in 2004.

While millions have become pundits, watchdogs and commentators thanks to “blogs”, many more are sitting on the sidelines waiting for more practical applications of the hottest online trend.  Not everyone wants to expose their personal lives for public viewing or promote political beliefs, but given a method of achieving meaningful and tangible results in their lives, millions more are likely to join the crowd.

Just as the internet changed the way we apply for jobs, research companies, and network with peers, blogging is quickly influencing how careers are developed.  Thought leaders in every industry are building up significant online followings through blogging.  Those that know how to find this collective wisdom are finding themselves at a distinct advantage in their career.  In addition, some people have even transformed themselves into thought leaders themselves by taking advantage of blogs’ unique ability for widespread promotion.

“Success Blogging” will be the first blog related book in the Career Development genre, aiming squarely to make internet job search books obsolete.  Books like Elizabeth Oakes’ “Career Exploration on the Internet: A Student's Guide to More Than 300 Web Sites!” and “Weddle's Directory of Employment-Related Internet Sites: For Recruiters & Job Seekers 2004” will soon be forgotten, making way for “how-to” professional and career blogging books and blogging indexes. 

Blogs are quickly becoming an indispensable source of industry information, networking, as well as a unique form of self promotion.  My book will detail practical applications of blogs for career advancement.  The book will first educate readers on what blogs are and how to access existing ones, with an emphasis on finding blogs with relevant industry specific and career information and integrating them into an internet user’s daily regimen.  Second, it will explain how readers can easily create their own sites, specifically with the purpose of career related self-promotion.  Lastly, I will explain how blogs can be a great tool for networking, fulfilling the promise that social networking sites will ultimately fall short on.  Throughout the book, I will focus on pitfalls they need to be careful about, such as judging the legitimacy of existing blogs as a source of information or maintaining professionalism on their own blogs.

The Market

     According to Technorati.com, the number of blogs has doubled every five months over the last year and a half.  Jason Calcanis, well known

New York

entrepreneur and founder of Weblogsinc.com wrote, “Everyone will have a blog in ten years or less… The way everyone has an email address today and so few people had email in 1994, the same will happen to your blog address…Blogs are hyped, but the truth is they will ultimately surpass and transcend the current hype — the same way the Internet did.”

     Yet, blogs are still relatively unfamiliar territory to most people.  According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, as of early 2004, “… between 2% and 7% of adult Internet users have created diaries or blogs. In this survey we found that 11% of Internet users have read the blogs or diaries of other Internet users.”   This points to the need to convince internet users, and anyone else, of more practical uses for blogging.  Many still think of blogging as a “geek” practice, or they see it more like an online diary, which they may not be comfortable with. 

     By promoting blogs as a practical tool that should be a part of everyone’s career strategy, this book will “one up” all of the popular books on using the internet as a career search tool.  Current offerings are focused on directories of websites and social networking, but few of these authors have caught on to the blog phenomenon as a career tool. 

     Of the 22 books that appear on Amazon when you search on “blogs,” 14 of the books were written this year or are due to come out next year.  Several of the listings aren’t even books—publishers are scurrying to quickly release e-books or Audio CDs to catch the blog wave.  Most of these books are about the basics of blogging.  A book specifically about how blogs can be relevant to careers would leapfrog the competition and be the first of its kind.  If experts are right, and blogs become anywhere near as mainstream as e-mail, there will be blog related books in every vertical, from cooking to law, and most definitely in the career area. Books that focus on static websites with infrequently updated information will become obsolete.  These websites and portals will no longer be the preferred method of seeking out industry and employment information, losing out to up to the minute postings by blogging thought leaders and corporate blogs. 

     This book would be the first entrant into what is sure to be a large market for books related to career blogging.  Just as there are internet books that cut across all verticals, there will certainly be blog related books in each vertical as the medium continues its explosive growth.  There are currently about two dozen blog related offerings on Amazon.com.  However, almost all of these books are either technical introductions to blogs or social research texts on this new phenomenon.  This book would be in the Careers genre, as opposed to the Internet, Computer, or Sociology genre, where most of these other blog books are located. 

Chapter Outline

*      Chapter 1: Introduction

This chapter will set an inviting and friendly tone, by indicating that this book is written for internet users of a wide range of expertise, including beginners.  It will also briefly outline what readers can expect in rest of the book in terms of content, focusing on the practical “how-to’s” versus the technical details of blogging. 

*      Chapter 2: What are Blogs and Who’s Blogging? 

The second chapter will explain what blogs are, where they came from, and the reason for their sudden popularity in 2004.  It will tell the story of blogging from the first bloggers to the entrepreneurs behind the most popular blogging sites, like Pyra Labs/Blogspot, Six Apart, and Live Journal.  It will also detail blogging’s explosion in popularity in 2004, especially around the election and the Dan Rather Memogate scandal.  This chapter will also cover the changing nature of the face of bloggers—once cutting edge “web geeks” and now rapidly becoming not only individuals from a wide variety of fields, but also large corporations, startup companies and professional or non-profit organizations. 

*      Chapter 3: Why are they Relevant to My Career?

This chapter will introduce the topic of career development, and how a more competitive environment has increased the importance of industry knowledge, networking, and self promotion.  The chapter will draw the connection between the importance of hiring well and hiring “known commodities” from a network, emphasizing proactive career and network development.

This chapter also promotes the value of firsthand industry knowledge through networking, both for the purposes of being more aware of the latest trends, as well as getting a better understanding of where you might fit in an industry.  The book in general takes the position that more fitting a job is for you, the more success you are likely to have.  Therefore, blogs can help drive success by helping you identify, from the firsthand accounts of professionals, the specific areas within each sector that best fits your unique talents and interests.

Here, I will also briefly introduce the idea of blogs as a tool of self promotion as well as a form of professional journal.  It will discuss the potential benefits of blogging about your own work accomplishments as well as being able to have such an account when you take part in a hiring process.  Applicants to a position might find a well written account, in a blog format, of work accomplishments, industry analysis, etc to be a differentiating factor that leads to being hired..

*      Chapter 4: Blogs and RSS:  How to Read Blogs Easily on a Daily Basis

Before the book can progress to discussing the practical uses of blogs, the reader must be educated on some easy to learn technical logistics on how to access different blogs.  This involves a description of RSS and how it differs from HTML.  It will also detail how users can organize their reading of multiple blogs by using a RSS feeds and a feed reader.  It will feature a comparison of currently available readers. 

This chapter will also discuss the non-technical aspects of integrating blogs into their daily lives, including decisions around time spent reading or writing blogs, and how a person decides how frequently they would like to tap into their blogs.

*      Chapter 5: Mining the Blogosphere: Finding Relevant Career and Industry Blogs

Searching for relevant and interesting blogs to read can be very difficult.  Search tools like Google and Technorati search on words within blog content, rather than grouping sites into topical categories.  This chapter will cover the best ways to initially find a blog worth reading, and then to branch out from that first discovery through its commentary, traded links, and “Who I read” lists.  It will also discuss ways to quickly assess the quality of a blog and the qualifications of the author.

Another important piece of advice to the reader is to prune their feed lists.  The amount of content available on blogs can overwhelm someone in a short amount of time.  Readers should make sure they are keeping their readings within the scope that they set out on, so as to make sure the process of keeping up with their blogs isn’t a two hour a day exercise. 

*      Chapter 6: Interacting with Industry Blog Communities

Just as there are effective and, moreover, proper ways to network with people at a cocktail party, there are definitely unstated “rules of engagement” in blogs.  Blogging has developed into a particularly positive medium, where large numbers of like minded people interact with each other, trade links, comment on each other’s blogs, and read some of the same blogs.  New entrants to the field need to understand the rules of the game and the best way to engage more experienced bloggers if they are to truly benefit from this great career tool.  New bloggers will be introduced to commenting and trackbacks, as well as commonly used methods of quoting. 

*      Chapter 7: Creating Your Own Professional Blog: Who, What, Why, Where and How?

Blogging can be a unique tool for self promotion, enabling just about anyone to create a name for themselves as good as the content they can create.  However, a lot of work needs to go into clearly outlining a strategy, as with any kind of new product or marketing campaign.  This chapter will help readers create a blog that plays to their strengths—one that will be interesting and useful to readers.  It will focus on the following topics:

o       Who should create a professional blog?

Anyone with any kind of job can and should be writing a blog.  There are different types of blogs and new bloggers need to understand how each type or combination of types might fit their purpose.  This section will cover:

§         Career journalizing – A record of your career accomplishments

§         Industry commentary – Your thoughts on new developments or trends in your field of interest

§         Resource aggregation/facilitators – Creating a resource for others in your industry that connects to other links or provides information

§         Blogging for your business – Using blogs as a tool to generate brand awareness and customer loyalty

This chapter will also detail where users can create their blogs and what tools they can use.  It will describe the different features of each services and help users decide whether or not they want to go with a free service with less features versus a pay site. 

*      Chapter 8: Content and Your Blog:  What to Write and What Not to Write

The value of a blog wholly rests in the quality of its content.  Before they start writing, authors need to decide the following:

§         How often Readers want to reasonably judge how often they want to post content, which is a decision that follows from both the nature of the content and the willingness of the blogger to make time to post.

§         What to blog  Great bloggers blog about what they know or they post interesting questions about what they don’t know, which requires a realistic assessment of the kind of content they are going to post.

§         What not to blog  Where will the bloggers “line” be.  Every blogger draws the line somewhere on what they are going to write about and what topics are off limits.  Bloggers expose their personal lives on different levels and new bloggers need to decide not only what they are comfortable posting about, but what their readers will be interested in and the consequences of getting too personal. 

Also, bloggers need to be aware of legal issues around blogging.  Can you get fired for something written on your blog?  Certainly.  I plan to interview several lawyers to get the details on privacy issues and libel, which new career bloggers need to be aware of. 

§         How to make it interesting  What is the unique angle that career bloggers will take in their writing that will make it interesting for a reader. 

*      Chapter 9: Promoting Your Professional Blog

This chapter will detail not just ways to promote your blog, but also the strategy behind what kind of promotion one might seek.  Great blogs don’t need a ton of readers—they need a relevant following.  This chapter will detail how to promote your blog, both online and even offline in order to generate the audience that is right for them.

*      Chapter 10: The Web as a Career Tool: Blogs vs. Websites and Social Networking Sites

This chapter will help the reader understand how blogs fit into the ecosphere of other types of online tools, including regular websites and social networking sites.  I will make the argument that blogs are quickly winning out over other tools as a means of career development and that blogs are the career development trend that people should be taking advantage of.  I will also discuss how blogs are likely going to fit into the employment process going forward, helping potential employers seek out and understand new hires and what they bring to the table. 

*      Appendix: Index of Career Specific and Industry Related Blogs

As a useful resource, I will give the readers a head start in searching out relevant career blogs by listing a sizable number of blogs in a wide variety of careers, each with a small description and profile of who the blogger is and what kind of content they have on their site. 

About the Author

Charlie O’Donnell is uniquely positioned between the technology and career education worlds.  After graduating from

Fordham

University

with a concentration in Finance, he has achieved success in his own career at a young age, landing an analyst position with General Motors Asset Management.  GMAM is one of the most highly regarded investors in venture capital and private equity and has invested with some of the most highly successful VC firms behind the most revolutionary technology trends in the last two decades.  In addition to being a regular blogger at “This is going to be big.  I can feel it.” (http://thisisgoingtobebig.typepad.com), Charlie tracks over 40 industry blogs related to venture capital, technology, and marketing strategy in order to stay current on this dynamic industry.

Charlie also has an extensive track record of working on new approaches to career development.  His career advice blog, www.findmypath.com, has been featured in Newsday.  In 2003, Charlie collaborated with

Fordham

University

’s Career Planning and Alumni Relations groups to create the school’s first student-alumni mentoring program targeted at matching recent alumni with freshmen and sophomores.  The program was inspired by Charlie’s experience as a board member, mentor, and speaker for NYSSA’s SEMI program—which is a

New York City

based program aimed at mentoring and educating young people with an interest in Finance.  He has also given several talks to

New York City

area college students on networking, career searches, and resume writing.