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“Blogging opened doors and enhanced my professional reputation”

Victoria Tomlinson posted this on

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Guest blog by Sarah Burnett, Vice President at Everest Group, a management consulting and research firm focused on the development and execution of global IT and business services strategy.

1. When and why did you start blogging?

I started blogging about 10 years ago when I realised its massive potential to enhance my professional brand and reputation and to increase my influence as an industry analyst. It gave me a stage to present my knowledge and thinking to the world. This was a personal decision but my boss at the time fully supported it.

You may ask why and who cared about my opinion. Well that is just it – there is demand for expertise no matter what field you are in and if you give snippets of it away for free, then you create more demand, build a following and enhance your professional reputation too.

I knew blogging was working because almost immediately, I started to get phone calls from analyst relations people at technology companies to arrange industry briefings on the topics of my blogs. It also opened doors for me to important industry media and I was soon shortlisted for blog awards too.

I remember the second time that I was shortlisted for Computer Weekly’s blog awards, I got a taxi to the awards reception. The taxi driver was a chatty Londoner and asked me what was happening at the venue. When I told him about it, he could not believe that I wrote about work in my spare time. He said I deserved an award for doing that alone.

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A year or so later,  I discovered Twitter and the potential for cross promoting tweets and blogs while providing good quality content on technology and related services. To me this was an absolute no brainer. If you have an expertise and do not tap into these free PR channels then you are not realizing your full market potential. Take a chief technology officer, who is well known and respected within his or her company. And that is it. When he/she steps outside the company, few people in the industry will know him/her. This is a binary kind of reputation – 1 when you are in the office, zero when you are outside. Blogging allows you to break that binary mould and become better known. What will that do for you? How does more business and professional contacts sound to you?

2. Where do you post your blogs?

Everest Group

Today, I mostly blog for my company but occasionally I post blogs on LinkedIn which gives me a more targeted audience within my network. It also helps me to showcase the quality research that we produce at my work (www.everestgrp.com). It is another way of boosting brands and rankings on LinkedIn.

I also blog as a guest for a services company’s blog pages. My own original blog, Sarah Burnett’s Web Musings is still there. I intend to revive it again at some point in the future.

3. What are the business benefits of blogging?

I was and still am an industry analyst. I was already known for my technology expertise and opinion. Blogging boosted that further, much much further. It has helped me be more successful professionally, twice be headhunted for better jobs, have more contacts and leapfrog the competition. It is not just me that it has helped but also the companies that I have worked for. It has been good PR for them allowing them to showcase the quality and depth of their expertise in their fields.

4. How did you learn to blog?

I had no coaching except for the peer reviews and editorial comments that I got when I submitted articles and reports to my colleagues and editors at work. I did read other people’s blogs and admired some for the ease with which they wrote entertaining or provocative and yet informative blogs. That said, blogging is a personal thing with your style stamped all over it. If you copy others’, it would feel fake and go wrong. I find the same with presentations and public speaking. You are who you are and you have to do the best of what you can do – not attempt to be someone else or a standup comedian.

5. What was the hardest part when you started blogging?

Posting something without getting someone else to read it and do a sanity check on it. My dear husband, Dr Tim Burnett, CEO of Connection Point Technology, who is also a techy, was my savior in this regard. He became my editor when I first started to blog. At work, my blogs go through a two stage process, a peer review and then, proofing.

If you have blogging aspirations but do not have anyone to check them for you, I suggest you use your network to find a blog buddy.

6. Do you have any blogging tips for others?

If you have an expertise, give blogging a go and use other social media channels to boost your audience.

Writing and maintaining a blog does mean extra work. Not only do you have to be accurate, original and clear in the way that you present your points, you must also add value. Stating the obvious is a non-starter.

7. Do you think blogging will help women in particular to increase their profile and get board positions?

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It depends on the board and the position that you want. Some boards are very old fashioned and might not appreciate blogging.  In other cases, a blog could be your passport to the board.

Overall, the fact that you develop a good professional reputation in the industry cannot do you any harm. I have definitely had more media interviews as a result of blogging and get approached by headhunters frequently with my higher profile.

Thanks to Sarah for her great insights into blogging for professionals.  If you are keen to get blogging, our Amazon bestselling ebook How to write a Top-Ranked Business Blog could help – or call us on 01423 562400.

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