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Does Your Company Support Your Blog?

Does Your Company Support Your Blog?

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    As much as you think blogging and social networking are mainstream, corporate America has not caught up

      quite yet. Many companies are fearful that they are losing control of their brand — and they are.  Companies are trying to put together social media guidelines as quickly as possible, so that employees know what they can and cannot say online, concerning their brand.  You’ve probably seen a blog with a disclaimer and blown it off like it didn’t exist and I don’t blame you.  Everything you say and do, whether online of offline, is a reflection of your brand and all brands you’re associated with, such as a nonprofit you are volunteering for, your company and even your friends. Most companies are top-down, which means if executives are fearful of social media, then there’s a good chance that you won’t be able to blog or share information about the company online.  This, of course, is an opportunity cost because talent is the most important corporate asset!
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      The research says a lot

      Companies haven’t completely embraced social media and some never will. Executives won’t even accept friend requests on Facebook or LinkedIn and most aren’t ever going to use Twitter.  IT departments block many sites, including social networks because there is a security risk associated with

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        them.  Also, any company with a lot of classified information, in certain industries like legal, doesn’t permit social networking use at all.  A lot of journalists aren’t even allowed to have a blog or a website.  As you can see from these statistics, there are a lot of hurdles corporations need to get over for social media to become the basis of how business is run.

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        Should you work for a company that doesn’t let you build your brand?

          No! If a company doesn’t let you build your personal brand using social media tools, your career will be sabotaged because you’ll lose your voice (a freedom that everyone should have).  Aside from the first amendment, if your voice isn’t heard, then you suffer a competitive disadvantage because there are millions of other voices out there.

          Companies are afraid to lose their employees to competition, which is one reason why they are afraid of employees building their own brands.  When employees start blogging and gain visibility through search engines and social networks, they become more marketable and may be recruited by another company.  Let’s be honest though; if a company doesn’t allow their employees to use social media, and another company does, wouldn’t it be smarter for employees to change companies?  Your brand and online network is your insurance against possibly losing your job in the future.  It’s all you’ve got.  Make sure you work for a company that supports your career, not just their own agenda.

          Companies benefit from your brand

          Companies need to understand quickly that their employees can actually help their organization, even when not in the office. A single employee now can pass a corporate message (or even a press release) to the outside world, at a fast space, while maintaining consistency.  Employees can also safeguard the corporate brand by monitoring brand mentions on social networks and Google.  Helpful employees might take it a step further and answer people’s questions about products and services.  Companies don’t even have to pay higher salaries right now to have their employee evangelists support their cause.  All it takes is empowerment and a little bit of trust!

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          Last Updated on August 20, 2019

          Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

          Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

          Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

          This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

          The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

          Curiosity

          Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

          People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

          Patience

          Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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          When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

          Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

          A Feeling for Connectedness

          This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

          A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

          The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

          With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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          1. Research

          Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

          Learning the Basics

          Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

          Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

          What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

          Hitting the Books

          Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

          Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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          Long-Term Reference

          While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

          My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

          2. Practice

          Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

          A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

          Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

          3. Network

          One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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          These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

          Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

          4. Schedule

          For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

          Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

          Final Thoughts

          In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

          If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

          At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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          Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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