This is the second follow-up piece in my series of why my blog and online presence will enhance future career opportunities. For the introduction click here and for part one about technology click here.
I mentioned this in passing last week, but one of the most incredible things about blogging and social media is the ability to build relationships with people. Not only those you see on a day-to-day basis, but also those you’ve never met before.
As I write this post, I’ve recently surpassed 90,000 views on my blog. This may seem small in the scheme of things on the internet, but it was still exciting to me. Every time I post something it is pushed out to my social media network and blog subscribers, that’s over 1,800 contacts. And yet these are just statistics. They are not relationships.
In fundraising and communications, the primary and most important concepts are relationships and stewardship. What the numbers above fail to show are the numerous authors who have read, shared and thanked me for my responses to their works, the number of publishers I have worked with, nor do they show my strengthened relationship and people skills.
I’ve gained more insight into professionalism and courtesy through relationships established through blogging. I receive galleys, advanced readers and review copies of books from publishers and authors on a regular basis (both requested and unsolicited). Regardless of whether I decide to read a book and post my response, I make sure to thank the person for reaching out to me and let them know if I am interested in their work. If I decide to respond, I make sure to give them an approximate time my response will be published and I send them a thank you afterward.
I’ve also learned how to use social media to interact with authors and publishers in an organic way. This is important to me because social media is about being sociable. It’s about finding a common ground and building a relationship with your audience or your peers. I don’t believe you should treat social media as another page on your website where you blast your message all the time. It should be an engaging conversation.
Building and developing these digital relationships is incredibly important to my current career, because it translates very well to in-person relationship building skills, not to mention a better understanding of my generation and those to come who grow up in this increasingly digital age.
I will be the first to admit I am not the most talkative person. I am not the most confident person when it comes to speaking to strangers. And I most definitely am not the type of person to make small talk or to chit-chat at a party. This being said, I am perfectly capable of doing all of these things in a work or social setting.
In having such a focused passion and hobby, I have learned to improve my conversation and networking skills with other bibliophiles. I have found my interpersonal skills and relationships have grown tremendously over the past few years and have even taken advantage of these abilities and my love of books by creating a podcast where I put all of these skills into action.
One concrete example of all of this: I recently requested a copy of Doing Good Better by William MacAskill from the publisher. I’ve wanted to incorporate professional development books and this book, focusing on effective altruism and philanthropy, into my reading queue.
Having the know-how to reach out to the publisher, having the platform to share my views on the book and ultimately having the opportunity to use the knowledge in crafting donor communications is invaluable. Ultimately, this one book used relationships I’d built from blogging to help me improve upon or even create from scratch future professional relationships.
Every time I click “Publish” or “Schedule,” I prepare to share my personal thoughts and personal literary journey, building new relationships with people around the world and strengthening those here in Boston.
And as an added benefit, I have developed my own voice, which is the final piece I’ll talk about next week.
Do you merge your digital and personal networks? Have you gained quantifiable skills from your hobbies that you’ve translated successfully into your profession?