Skill Sets # 19: To Blog or Not to Blog (Honestly, That is Not the Question)
I believe that inside every tool is a hammer. Adam Savage
I was called to the Bar in 1977, and although I have presented many papers over the years for a variety of purposes, it was not until 2019 that I posted a blog, or for that matter, even read one. Kids, do not try this at home.
I now find myself not only committed to blogging regularly, but preaching that not just blogging, but following other bloggers, is important for lawyers or law firms who hope to carve and maintain stature in the marketplace. Agree with the (not so recent) phenomenon or not, it is not going away. There is a significant risk therefore for our new and junior colleagues who may think differently, of being left behind. They must be encouraged to join the blogosphere by finding and regularly following knowledgeable sites they consider to be helpful to their practice areas, and by posting diligently and strategically themselves.
It Is All About Communication
The simple key to blogging is (1) it is all about communication and (2) there are no entry rules.
Forms of communication are said to go back as far as 500,000 BC, and the use of technology in communication to the first use of symbols in about 30,000 BC (cave paintings). Then comes the evolution of the written ‘word’, the mass dissemination of writing (the Gutenberg press), the soapbox, the microphone, the telegraph, telephone, the radio, movies, movies with sound, television, and on and on ad infinitum (a phone you can wear in your ear; a movie you can isolate in your eyewear, an embedded chip coming to a frontal lobe near you).
The point is, all of this is nothing more than the progressive innovation of tools to aid in communication. We live and die by communication – and more so, by our ability to communicate effectively and purposefully.
What we now refer to as the social network (an enhanced form of communication) is also simply a tool that expanded from the first transmission of an email through two computers situated side by side in 1971, to the launch of Friendster in 2002, My Space in 2004, Facebook in 2004 (public in 2006), and on and on with Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat and ever more.
And what we now refer to as blogging is merely a different tool, reputed to have developed in 1994 as a place for Justin Hall to self-publish his writing (Links.net). In 1997 the term “weblog” was created. In 1998 Jonathan Dube became the first journalist to blog an event. Pyra Labs launched Blogger, a blog publishing service in 1999 (purchased by Google in 2003). The rest is history.
No Entry Rules
I repeat. Blogging and social networking are nothing more when seen in this light than modern, readily available and entirely ubiquitous tools supporting massive communication and influence building opportunities which our colleagues must be convinced not just to use, but to use well (and not just to use well, but to use consistently and effectively).
There are many very good reasons to encourage our new and junior colleagues to adopt (believe in) the habit of not only blogging but blogging strategically.
At or near the top of the list is the opportunity to expand their profiles both internally and externally. Blogging is an effective way to develop a confident understanding of one’s practice, and to be seen to be in command of it; to attract attention and to reach a broader audience; and, from there, to make new contacts, earn potential referrals, find recognition, and stand apart.
In my day, you hoped through your work and word of mouth to attract the opportunity to present at professional development programs, so as to be seen and heard, and consequently, elevated. One highly strategic advantage of blogging is that it does not require an invitation. There are no entry rules, no break-in period, and no developmental lock-step with senior practitioners. In fact, blogging is an acceptable and easy way to leap frog over any and all competitors and level the field. Blogging is a soft entry point to recognition; it does not require taking risk, or overt self-promotion. Anyone can do it, and with care, do it well. The Tool is there for the taking.
In addition, as their careers develop, our new and junior colleagues will likely be encouraged to narrow the scope of their practice. Blogging will assist them in introducing their new selves to the marketplace. To refine that opportunity, and for greater advantage, our colleagues should be encouraged to blog strategically. We can help them recognize that one way to be strategic and therefore more effective in promoting a growing expertise is to identify and in a series of consecutive posts expand upon a subject that highlights that expertise. Not doing so is wasting the important opportunity that blogging presents. Focusing indiscriminately is not only an oxymoron, it is counter-productive. Focusing discriminately in the organized use of the blogging tool, is smart.
Find the hammer.