Jennifer Okimoto spoke about social business at yesterday’s Canadian Women in Communications (CWC, @cwcafc) meetup in Toronto. Since she’s a friend, former colleague, and all-around awesome person, I just had to catch up with her while she was in town. I was amused to turn up in a couple of her stories. =) Here are my notes from her talk. Click on the image for a larger version.
Feel free to share this! (Creative Commons Attribution License) Like these? Check out my other sketches for more. You can find out more about Jennifer Okimoto on Twitter (@jenokimoto) or LinkedIn.
Sketchnoter’s notes: I did these sketchnotes on paper because I didn’t have my tablet PC with me. I used a black Pilot V5 Hi-Tecpoint on a legal-sized sheet of paper. It turned out that my flatbed scanner can’t handle legal-sized sheets of paper and my margins were too small for the sheet-fed scanner, so I cut it in half (hooray for plenty of whitespace!), scanned the pieces, overlaid them in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, erased the overlap, and desaturated the layer to get rid of the slight greenish cast. I added the blue colour by drawing a separate layer in “Add” mode. Since I drew in ink, I decided to leave the contrast as varying instead of redrawing everything digitally. Drawing on paper makes me miss working digitally (those nice, clean, confident lines!). <laugh> Next time!
Paul Gillin invited me to do a tweetchat on the professional and personal value of blogging. When I brainstormed some of the things I’d like to talk about, I ended up with a big list: not just the value I get from blogging, but also tips for how you can build that too. I hope you enjoy this blog series!You can also see other resources in this value of blogging series.
1. Making your goals real
Writing about your goals can be scary. You might feel that people will laugh at your goals, or that they’ll embarrass you if you don’t achieve them. You might worry about sounding over-ambitious, or not ambitious enough.
But there’s a lot of value in writing about your goals, even if you start by doing so in a private entry. When you write about what you want in life, why you want it, and how you can get to that point, that path becomes clearer. When your goals dim and your willpower fades, you can inspire yourself by reviewing your notes, reminding yourself of your goals and why they matter.
Tips: Set a goal for yourself. Write about it. Write about why it matters to you. Write about your plans for achieving your goal. Review your notes when you need a burst of energy.
2. Connecting with inspiration
The Internet can make it easy to connect with other people who have similar goals. Look for blogs that inspire you. If you share your reflections through blog posts of your own, linking to the posts or people who’ve inspired you, you can build unexpected relationships and learn from or even help your role models in surprising ways.
Tips: Comment on inspiring blog posts. If you have more to say, write a blog post that refers to theirs. Share what you’re learning from people and how you’ve tried those ideas in your life.
Change can be long, slow, and tiring. If you can look back at the progress you’ve made, though, you might find it easier to keep going. You can use your blog to keep track of your progress.
If you’re trying to establish a new habit, you might write about how well you’re doing, or what you can do to make it easier to do what you want to do. If you’re working on improving your skills, your blog posts can help you keep track of your growth. For example, when I started learning more about drawing, I blogged my stick figures. Thanks to my blog, I can see how my drawing techniques have evolved over time, and I get less frustrated because I know I’m making progress.
Tips: Write about your progress, and think about sharing examples of your work so far. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day, lapse into old behavior, or slide backwards. Focus on the positive, and keep going.
4. Inspiring others
Inspire others? Yes, you can do that, even if you’re just starting out. If you share what you’re learning and how you’re living life, you might be surprised by how you touch other people’s lives. And it gets even better – you might learn a lot from the people you inspire, too.
One of the things that makes it easier for me to think out loud – to share whatever I’m learning about or struggling with on my blog – is that I often hear from other people who’ve learned a little from what I’ve shared, or who are glad to find someone else dealing with similar situations, or who are happy to finally have words for something they’ve struggled to describe. We’re all in this together, and it’s great to be able to help and inspire other people.
Tips: Don’t be afraid of sharing what you’re learning, even the parts that are hard. Who knows whom you might help along the way?
Trying MemoLane on David Ing’s recommendation. It organizes blog posts, Twitter posts, Facebook entries, and other social information into a rather pretty timeline. This has been done before, but Memolane does have a pretty interface.
Wish it could pull in all of my old blog posts and tweets, though! =)
Potentially interesting feature: collaborate with other people on a timeline. Hmm…
Paul Gillin invited me to do a tweetchat on the professional and personal value of blogging yesterday. When I brainstormed some of the things I’d like to talk about, I ended up with a big list: not just the value I get from blogging, but also tips for how you can build that too. I hope you enjoy this blog series!
Blog your work to increase your return on investment or effort by remembering more effectively and by reaching more people.
How much time do you spend solving problems similar to what you’ve encountered before, answering questions you’ve already answered before, or remembering information you need to solve new challenges? Take notes and save that time.
How much time can you save other people if you share your notes with them? Are there other people in your organization, client base, or network who could benefit from your solutions? Share your notes.
Invest the extra minutes in taking and sharing notes in order to increase your ROI.
2. Questions, updates, resources, and serendipitous conversations
One of the challenges of blogging is that you don’t know who’s going to read it. That’s also one of the advantages. When you ask a question, you might be surprised by who answers it – perhaps someone you wouldn’t have thought of asking. When you post an update, you might make an unexpected connection with someone else, and learn about resources you might not have discovered on your own. When you talk about something you’re working on, you might end up in a serendipitous conversation with someone who can make use of it or help you with it. It’s the online equivalent of the lucky hallway chat, except with a lot more people in the virtual hallway.
Make it easy for people to discover your updates or even subscribe to them.
If you add personal touches to your professional blog, you can make it easier for potential clients and coworkers to connect with you through common interests. Write about why you do the work that you do and what you love about it. Write about your other interests, too.
Don’t be afraid of bringing your personality to your blog. Use it to connect with people.
Blog your work to build your reputation. When people read about what you’re working on, they learn about your skills and get a sense of who you are as a person. The next time they come across a challenge that looks like it’s a good fit, they might think of you and refer the opportunity to you. Particularly if you’re starting out, sharing your knowledge will help you build your network and your reputation.
Use your blog to demonstrate your skills and your character.
Invest time into building thought leadership through blog posts, articles, and presentations.
5. Jobs and careers
A blog can help you look for a great job or plan your career. Use it to explore your strengths and figure out how to communicate them. Use it to think about what kinds of companies would be a good fit for you, and where you would be a good fit. Use it to connect with people and ask them for help. Use it to reflect on where you want to go with your career and what kind of value you want to create.
Don’t beg for a job. Use your blog to communicate strength, passion, and professionalism.
Build a network of mentors and friends. Connect with people and ask them for advice.
6. Accountability and transparency
Blogging is a great way to make public commitments and hold yourself to them. You can use this for both personal and professional goals..
If you speak on behalf of a company, then you definitely need a fast way to respond to any issues that come up. With the speed of conversation on Twitter and blogs, you can’t wait for press releases. Establish this channel before a public relations crisis comes up. It’s better to admit a mistake and work with people on resolving it than to stonewall.
Whether you’re an executive or a newcomer, you can influence the culture of your organization through what you share. When you share what you know through your blog, you encourage a culture of knowledge-sharing. When you add a personal touch, you contribute to a culture of human connection. When you show that you aren’t afraid of making mistakes and learning from them, you develop a culture of growth. This can have a powerful effect on your organization, both online and offline.
Consider the fit between how you want to write and what the existing culture is. Be prepared for differences, and modify your approach accordingly. For example, if you want to shift your surrounding culture to share more, anticipate and address people’s concerns.
If you’re a leader, take the initiative in demonstrating the kind of company culture you want to encourage.
How much time do you spend per blog? What time of day do you do it? @dgriess
I’ve tried writing morning pages, but I usually just write whenever I’m learning or solving problems. Let me ask another way, about how much time goes into each entry?@dgriess
Depends on topic. Usually 5-15 minutes extra, or 30+ if I’m braindumping tips for others / exploring something new.
What would you recommend for those who try to blog on behalf of their company? How can they carve out time?@KevinMGreen
It’s marketing, professional development, networking, and all sorts of good stuff. Great ROI. Makes sense to do it.
Finding time always seems to be the biggest challenge.@KevinMGreen
Try tweaking your workflow so that you write along the way. Check importance/efficiency of other things you do.
On perfectionism and personal branding
My question for this chat: What would help _you_ get more value from blogging? What are your challenges / goals? kurtisgriess: Hardest thing abt blogging for me is planning and perfectionism… takes me forever!
pgillin: Hardest thing for me abt blogging is feeling I have to always be profound. Worried about wasting ppl’s time. (Sacha: Reading is optional, skimming is easy. You don’t have to be perfect, or profound, or even interesting. ;) )
KevinMGreen: likewise Paul #infoboomsc always trying to deliver can be intimidating
Sacha: Me, I’m looking forward to writing about more things (life! work! awesomeness!), and getting better at organizing for discovery.
What are common mistakes you see/experience?@KevinMGreen
Perfectionism and the related fear of having to publicly change your mind or admit room for improvement. ;) Partly our collective fault, because we scare people re: the unforgiving memory of the Internet. I disagree with that. You are never going to be perfect. You’re also never going to get better unless you try. ;)
I wrestle with “perfecting” a thought. Probably thinking too hard on my individual entries.@dgriess
It’s easier to work with a draft or post than with a blank slate. There will always be a better way to say things.
I can imagine there would be some folks out there who may not feel comfortable about blogging their work. @elsua
Blog transparency may not be for everyone just yet, but it’s surprisingly less scary than most people think.
How can people bypass that risk aversion and dive into it slowly, but steadily? Don’t fear, just blog?@elsua
Small steps can help people get over fear, experience immediate benefits: http://sachachua.com/blog/p/7316
… Ideally that people should understand how blogging is perhaps the most powerful trait for their personal brand @elsua
I wish people worried less about “personal brands” and felt better about connecting as _people_. =)
Can you share any tricks for what to do when you run out of ideas? Or does that ever happen?@infoBOOM
Do you ever run out of things to learn, or things you can help other people learn? No lack of material.
What’s the one tool/resource you rely on to create such compelling content? @KevinMGreen
Best resource for blogging: Life. Best tools: the questions: “Why? Why not? How can we make this even better?”
Do you write in your blog more for yourself or for others? What’s the balance?@kurtisgriess
Mostly myself (can’t trust my memory). Often for (usually specific) others, just in case others find it helpful.
What’s your thinking on comments? Do you try to respond to them all? @infoBOOM
I reply to as many comments as I can. I’m sure some slip through cracks. Easier than e-mail. =) Also, warm contacts.
How would you describe your voice? Or does that even matter to you? @infoBOOM My blogging voice? Me. I’m like this in real life. It makes writing much easier — and living’s easier, too. =)
You don’t use gimmicks like “top 10″ lists or “best and worst.” Is that by design?@infoBOOM
Can’t stand reading or writing generic blog posts with arbitrary rankings. I’ll use mnemonic structures, though.
In your opinion, what’s the ideal length of a blog post? Or does it depend on the topic? @elsua
I try to stick to one clear thought per blog post, saying as much or as little as I have to say about that. Lengths vary.
What do you use to manage your editorial approach? I still send myself emails which is not really effective.@KevinMGreen
I keep a big text file on laptop with rough notes and ideas, and I post snippets on a regular basis or by plan.
When someone sends you a question by e-mail, do you often post answer to blog and send them link?@infoBOOM
Shift e-mail conversations to blog posts when possible. Widens the conversation, reaches more people, saves more time.
You do write about a lot of topics. Do you ever worry that you lack expertise in these areas? @infoBOOM
When you’re learning, that’s the best time to write. Don’t wait until you’re an expert and you’ve forgotten.
When you started your blog, did you set goals on spec. milestones (traffic, subscribers)? @kaeppler
Early: class notes, Emacs snippets, things to remember. Didn’t care about traffic or subscribers, but happy I helped. Still don’t focus on traffic or subscribers, although honoured to see them. It’s not about numbers, it’s about people.
[…] Was “living an awesome life” your first blog at all? @kaeppler
It’s actually just an alternative name for sachachua.com – livinganawesomelife.com is easier to remember/spell. ;)
You’ve written that blogging has made you a better presenter. How? @infoBOOM
Practice in figuring out what to say, how to say it. Archive of potential material. Better ROI and reach. Invitations. Also, feedback on content, delivery, and technology. Continuous improvement. Confidence. Connection.
Many bloggers are too focused on the audience and less about the personal value they receive. @KevinMGreen
Tons of immed. indiv. value.http://sachachua.com/blog/p/22119 New bloggers, take heart, even if no one reads you! #infoboomsc
Sacha, would love for you to share insights on how you use blogging to narrate your work@elsua
Blogging is a great way to understand complex issues. It also helps shape culture of knowledge-sharing – many benefits!
Is there one blog post that stands out as particularly memorable to you? And why? @infoBOOM
It’s like asking me what my favourite book is. ;) Lots of context-sensitive favourites. A recent highlight: http://sachachua.com/blog/p/22017, but that could be because I cut my finger in the process. ;)
We’re thinking of doing another tweetchat with #infoboom in three months. In the meantime, if you have any questions, thoughts, suggestions, or tips, please feel free to share them through comments, blog posts, and Twitter! Would you like to host a conversation about a topic I’m passionate about? Let’s talk about it!
Paul Gillin invited me to do a tweetchat on the professional and personal value of blogging on March 3, 2011 (2pm-3pm EST, #infoboom). When I brainstormed some of the things I’d like to talk about, I ended up with a big list: not just the value I get from blogging, but also tips for how you can build that too. I hope you enjoy this blog series!
You might feel awkward in the beginning, but trust me, all that writing practice from your blog will pay off. Blogging is a great way to figure out not only what you want to say, but how you want to say it. Better communication skills will help you at work and in life!
Blogging helped me fall in love with writing. I got frustrated in school, writing book reports and essays that didn’t really matter. When I started blogging, I discovered the joy of writing for myself and others. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and now writing is one of my favourite activities. It pays off at work, too.Tips:
Practise outlining or mindmapping your blog posts. As you get better at planning your posts, you’ll be able to write them more quickly.
Review your old posts and revise them. Figure out what you keep writing about, and summarize or update your posts.
Read lots of blogs to get a sense of the kinds of blog posts you enjoy reading. Emulate different styles and challenge yourself to try different techniques.
Don’t let perfectionism stop you from writing. Your blog posts may feel like rough drafts, but you’ll get better at writing over time.
2. Visual communication
Whether you’re writing a professional blog or a personal blog, it can be good to add visual interest through photographs or drawings. You can develop an eye for images and visual communication by including Creative Commons-licensed photos or stock photos in your posts, appropriately attributed when necessary. You can also take your own pictures or draw your own illustrations, adding more of a personal touch to your blog while helping you develop your skills.
My blog–and the presentations that grew out of it–helped me rediscover drawing. You can see the evolution of my sketches from scrawny stick-figures on a Nintendo DS to slighly-less-scrawny stick figures on a tablet PC. I’ve come to enjoy drawing, and sometimes people even ask me to draw something for them.
Add something visual to your blog – either something you made, or a relevant image from the Internet. (Respect copyright.)
One way to get better at photography or drawing is to set a public goal of posting a photo or sketch regularly (ex: one photo a day). Give it a try!
If you give presentations, a blog can be an incredible resource. You can use your blog to draft and share ideas, collect material, get feedback, share your presentation, and follow up with people.
Many of my presentations have grown out of blog posts, and I’ve received a number of invitations to speak from people who’ve come across my posts. My blog gives me a place to try ideas out, refine them, get feedback, and put together presentations.
Post your presentations and share the URLs when you give presentations. This gives people a way to follow up.
Post your outlines and presentation ideas on your blog, and use your blog posts to draft presentations or collect material. This will make it easier to prepare presentations later, and you can learn from other people’s feedback along the way.
Blogs make conversations so much easier for me. When I talk to people, I often find myself thinking about or referring to things I’ve written. It really helps to have thought about some things and be able to express them clearly, and I love sharing additional resources.
My blog posts have also led to all sorts of conversations I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I sometimes find it difficult to start a conversation. Fortunately, people read my blog and start the conversation with me, both online and in person.
Conversations lead to blog posts, too. There, my blog gives me the opportunity to continue the conversation, reflect on things I’m learning, and share them with a wider audience. I get to show my appreciation for the insights people have shared with me, and I get to learn from other people’s perspectives.
Write about things people might find useful, then blend these thoughts into your conversations where appropriate.
Follow up on conversations in your blog.
5. Avoiding the curse of expertise
Many people don’t want to write about things they don’t feel are their expertise. Experts are experts because they’ve achieved unconscious competence; they’ve forgotten more than other people have learned. Experts often have a hard time explaining things to other people because they’ve forgotten the details that stump newcomers. So experts aren’t really the best people who can write about things, especially for beginners. It’s better to write along the way, while you’re learning, so that people can understand and so that you won’t take things for granted.
Don’t wait until you’re an expert. Write while you’re learning.
Use your archive to remember what it was like to learn something complicated.