Going the Whole Blog: The Benefits of Social Networking

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Blogging and social networking is becoming increasingly popular and has received both good and bad press recently. Jackie Cameron believes that blogging has many benefits and is a champion to its cause.

About this time last year, I sent out my quarterly newsletter to my clients and contacts by email. This prompted a call from a director of a media company who I had met a short time before telling me that what I really needed to do was "blog".

I am generally open to ideas so I asked him to give me some more information. He explained that my ability to meet and get to know other people face-to-face (as clients or as like-minded professionals) was limited both by time and geography. As I wrote my newsletter very much in the way that I talk, if I continued this on a regular basis on my website, I had the potential to reach a much wider and really unlimited audience.

This made good sense to me and I authorized him to make changes to my website for my blog and off I went.

Writing this article prompted me to go back to the early days and read the first few entries. I am glad to say I am still happy with those! As my blog serves as both a marketing and networking tool for me it was vital that I blogged regularly – so I aimed to post an entry at least three times each week. But I resolved never to post an entry just for the sake of it – if I had nothing useful to say then I didn't.

Thoughts and observations
The content is very much about my thoughts and observations. I only ever mention someone by name if I have gained permission to do so and this would usually be to allow me to promote or publicise something they are doing. I never quote anyone unless it is a link to something in the public domain already.

My blog and website are very much a work in progress and are related to my business. It is also a sort of live CV to which my potential clients can refer. As they reflect both me and the business it is crucial that I don't do anything that would have a negative impact on either.

"My blog and website are very much a work in progress and are related to my business. It is also a sort of live CV to which my potential clients can refer."

I take a positive view of life and this is reflected in what I write. I was encouraged to keep going by reading other blogs. This is where I believe there is huge value for me.

I am particularly interested in working with teachers and young people in schools and with college and university students. I found a great education blog for East Lothian near to Edinburgh where I am based, which gave me insight into what was happening both locally and also at a national level.

When I felt it was appropriate I posted comments. I found that surprisingly scary at the start. There was I, writing my thoughts on my own blog but I was hesitant about commenting on other people's. But after doing it a few times I decided that if I posted something that I thought was relevant/interesting/helpful/appropriate that was a good check for me.

I have also linked into blogs in areas of special interest, like positive psychology and authors whose books I have read and liked. Sometimes I pick up a link that takes me into somewhere new. I probably spend about 30 minutes most days catching up on other people's blogs and writing my own.

Supportive comments
There is space for comments on my blog and so far comments I have had have been supportive and encouraging but by putting my thoughts out in the public domain I have to accept that someone might take a different stand and want to tell me so.

I also accept that my style of writing will appeal to some and turn others right off. I do get spammed but that is filtered before it reaches the public view. Posted comments have to be moderated by me again before they can be read. I think this is a sensible safeguard.

"I think that there is huge potential for accessing information and expertise through blogs and even for mentoring relationships to be developed."

I get statistics that show how many readers I have in any one day. If I get to the point where I want to know exactly who my readers are I will ask them to subscribe to my website but at the moment I think the ability to read without making a commitment works for a lot of people.

Social networking online has grown dramatically over the past few years - particularly on sites like bebo and MySpace. For me, HR Zone falls into the social networking category. I read the articles, can see who has posted comments and find out more about them through the Who’s Who section.

I also think that there is huge potential for accessing information and expertise through blogs and even for mentoring relationships to be developed. And it does not need to be public. Many's a time I have picked something up in a blog and then taken it into a private email communication. It's a matter of personal choice.

About the author: Jackie Cameron is founder of Cameron Consulting, a coaching and personal developement consultancy. You can check out her blog at www.consultcameron.com. Or for more information, please email: [email protected]

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