Editor’s note: This post was written by Matthew Davis, who works as an inbound marketer and blogger for Future Hosting, a leading provider of VPS hosting. Follow Future Hosting on Twitter at @fhsales, Like them on Facebook and check out their tech/hosting blog.
Blogging is a powerful tool for career development. As a platform for publishing insightful content, a blog can extend your influence and demonstrate expertise.
I’m not a big fan of the terms influencer and thought leader. Perhaps it’s excessive exposure to social media marketing hokum, but those bits of jargon usually make my nonsense detector tingle. Nevertheless, they were originally useful terms that described a real phenomenon.
One of the best ways to make an impact in your field is to demonstrate that you can think creatively and produce arguments and ideas that resonate with colleagues and potential colleagues. Being able to think cogently and write well are skills that are invaluable in almost any field. Blogging is one of the easiest ways to demonstrate these abilities.
Now, I write blog articles (among other things) for a living, so it’s easy enough for me to say that you should start blogging, but for those of you who are busy with other work, it might seem that blogging is an obligation too far. But it’s because I write for a living that I think it’s such a good idea for career development.
To demonstrate why, I’d like to spend some time unpacking the dubious terms I mentioned at the beginning of the article.
Despite its popularity among people who claim mastery of social media on the basis of the number of followers they paid for, thought leadership is basically a jargon term for the ability to contribute something new and insightful to your field.
Many people do their jobs within the narrow confines of their training, but they never think about the processes underlying what they are doing, develop ways to optimize their role, analyze current events, criticize established ideas, or provide useful information to their peers.
The willingness to write publicly is evidence of an active and curious engagement with your career. It shows you care to think critically about what you are doing and put ideas to the test. Of course, you can do that within your company, but blogging can build respect and an audience across your chosen field.
Being a brilliant thinker doesn’t get you very far if your thoughts have no impact outside of your own head. Your company or department may benefit, but those outside the confines of your day-to-day interaction won’t. Influence is a powerful tool for career development. If you write content that impresses and influences the thinking of superiors, employers, employees, and peers, it can only benefit your career progression.
But, my major reason for promoting blogging for career development is that writing regularly is a discipline that can improve insight and productivity. If I want to think about a subject, I don’t sit down with a cup of tea in a comfortable chair and cogitate. I read as much as I can, and then I write. My first draft is usually not that great, but when the thought is on the page, I edit and refine until it’s in good enough shape to publish (if that ever happens). Writing can be a tool for thinking — as I clarify my writing on a topic, I clarify my thinking.
You can do that without ever publishing, but the next step in improving one’s thinking should be to solicit the opinion of other people. Others can more quickly see the small errors in thinking and the things that we miss. And they can contribute their own thoughts to form an ongoing dialogue of peers.
A blog is not just an enhanced resume and a tool for self-promotion — it’s a way to join a dialogue of peers, contribute insights, and develop your own thinking. Blogging for career development is definitely one of the things you should consider.