Posted by: Jess Scheve | March 3, 2011

7 Life Lessons from the Blogosphere

The other day I was thinking about all the new social media platforms that I have yet to familiarize myself with and I realized that learning about technology is just like learning about anything else in life – it’s an ongoing process. As students we work hard to transform ourselves professionally, but our development doesn’t end once we get the job of our dreams. In fact, getting the job is just the beginning. We continue to learn on the job and grow not only professionally and academically, but also as human beings.

It’s easy to forget that learning never really ends. It’s important that we remind ourselves of this from time to time; otherwise, we’ll find ourselves frustrated when something new comes along and we don’t know what we’re doing.

This technology induced pondering got me thinking about other life lessons that manifest themselves in areas of web 2.0. I found seven life lessons within the blogosphere alone. I haven’t mastered any of these yet, because – well –  like so many others I’m still a work in progress.

1. The world doesn’t revolve around you

Outdoor globe fountain

Image from everystockphoto.com. Licensing information

Web 2.0, especially blogging, is about having conversations. If you’re only talking about yourself all the time then people will probably stop listening, that is, if they were ever listening in the first place. If you want to learn more about blogging, then check out Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. If you’re blogging for business and you’ve never tried it before, then I’d recommend reading this before you get started. I read it for one of my classes last semester and found it very helpful.

2. Think big, start small

Yes, social media can offer great opportunities. Yes, it allows you to form relationships and reach out to people like never before. But if you’ve never dabbled in social media you can’t very well go diving right in. As a PR practitioner, you wouldn’t jump right into planning without doing a little research first, right? The same is true for social media. The best way to learn is from doing, yes, but you must have a basic understanding of what you’re dealing with first. Certain social media platforms have social (networking) norms that are not unlike norms that we may encounter in the “real world.” For more on these norms check out this handy guide on netiquette.

3. Sticks and stones may break your bones…

People are not always going to agree with what you have to say. This is as true in the blogosphere as it is in life. Don’t let this keep you from blogging. Most people are respectful and merely offer different points of view. The exchanging  of ideas is supposed to involve healthy debate, after all.

4. If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?

Man jumping into water

Image from everystockphoto.com. Licensing Information

You may have rolled your eyes when you heard this as a youngster, but your mom was on to something. Just because “everyone” is blogging doesn’t mean it’s right for you or your organization. Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish. If you’re blogging for a company, then who are you trying to reach? If you’re blogging for yourself then ask why. Are you trying to build a personal brand? Are you passionate about a particular subject? Do you have something interesting and unique to share with the world?

5. If you don’t have anything nice to say…

This may be one lesson that is best left outside the blogosphere – well, sort of. Blogging is supposed to be about sharing information and opinions. Some people may not agree with you; you may not agree with them. That’s okay. It’s okay to share your opinions. Just keep in mind that what you say is out there for everyone to see. This leads me to another life lesson: it’s not always what you say, it’s how you say it. In other words keep it respectful. No name calling or attacking an individual. It doesn’t make you look intelligent, in fact it has the opposite effect. This one may be common sense, but it’s always a good thing to keep in mind.

6. Do onto others as you’d have others do onto you

This one isn’t always easy because we get so caught up in maintaining our own content that we fail to keep up with others’.  But it’s good  to try to read and comment on other people’s blogs. Think about how great it feels when you get feedback. People will appreciate it and who knows? It may lead to a link which could help your rankings when people search for your blog. To learn more on how to maximize your rankings check out some more on SEO.

7. Rome wasn’t built in a day

You’re not going to be an overnight success. It takes time. You have to be willing to not only post on a regular basis, but also to read and post on other blogs. But don’t worry. You’ll get there.

In case you couldn’t tell I was having some fun with cliches – maybe a little too much fun. I found some more advice for you with the help of cliché finder.

  • Make you’re own luck
  • Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today

And don’t forget to…

  • Think outside the box

What other clichés can you find that relate to the blogosphere?

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Responses

  1. This is such a great post! I think anyone who is thinking about starting up a blog should check out your tips. Number 6 is my favorite–I definitely think that a lot of people creating content on the Web do get caught up in their own work and their own world, leading them to be less active participants in the overall conversation (which is really the point anyway, right?). I think keeping up with other topics can also help bloggers find new topics to discuss in their posts– even though all of our class blogs are on different topics, I still get a bit of inspiration for mine while looking at everyone’s each week.

    • Glad you liked it Ellen, thank you! I can definitely relate to getting inspiration from other people’s blogs. Sometimes when when I need inspiration I go straight to my RSS reader. I think that social bookmarking sites like Delicious will be good for that as well but I have yet to get established on there. Do you find inspiration in your social bookmarking sites?

  2. I enjoyed reading your post “7 Life Lessons from the Blogosphere” and lesson 2 really resonated with me. With all the different social media platforms available, and all the new possibilities that exist, it is fun and exciting to think big and wonder what you can accomplish. However, I agree that starting small is crucial to success. As a new social media user myself, I find I am gaining confidence with each week, and the more comfortable I become, the more advantages I see myself taking out of the social media experience.

    • Thanks Patrick! I’m glad you found it useful and that youre’ gaining confidence! I feel the same way. Blogging is kind of empowering in a way isn’t it?

  3. What a great post! I agree with your examples very much. Number 6 especially resonates with me. I often get so caught up in posting that I forget to take time to read other valuable information provided to me right here in the blogosphere!

    I think another cliche of social media very similar to your number 6 is “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” I do not like thinking this way usually. I like to be giving of myself unconditionally when I can, but as a very busy graduate student, I can’t always be as giving of my time in social media as I may like to be. I think it’s important to help someone else when they’ve helped you. I think social media offers great and easy opportunities to recognize each other professionally with #FollowFriday on Twitter and link sharing. In these avenues, I think it’s important for us to recognize people who are further along that us and that are just starting out because it might benefit us and our network later in our careers.

    • Thanks Anne! That’s a great cliche. You have a very admirable philosophy, not just on social media but on life in general! 🙂 It reminds me of what one of our guests in management said about wanting to use social media to “pay it forward” (I believe it was Lance Godard). You also make an excellent point about the importance of recognizing professionals who are at different levels in their careers. I can’t imagine how much more difficult networking must have been before social media. As far as being busy is concerned, most people will understand that you’re busy and that you do what you can.


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