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Getting Started with Blogs

Andy Lark, a prominent Sun blogger, gave a talk this week on why companies need to, at the very least, be aware of what is happening in the Land of Blog (commonly known as the blogosphere). Blogging is the perfect mix of industry experts, passionate evangelists, and external developers—all offering their opinions free of charge. It's like the perfect focus group—and it's right at your fingertips.

One of the best tips that came out of this week was that if you really want to find out what blogging is about, find 3–5 blogs in your industry and start reading them. Finding those blogs can be as simple as Googling for them. Is your company in the semiconductor business? Search for "Semiconductor blog" on Google. Perhaps Apple is your largest partner? "Apple blog" will have more than enough results to wet your whistle.

After finding a handful of blogs you find valuable, read them for two weeks. Set aside 15 minutes of your day to soak up the industry happenings. And whenever you see something to do with your company or something that is of interest to you, comment on it or make a note of it.

After two weeks of this, you should be aware enough of what is going on to want to respond more in depth. You may have sent emails to the bloggers who write the blogs you read in order to tell them what you really think.

Now is the time for you to start a blog. If you want, start a private one (several services, such as TypePad and Blog-City offer private blogs). Whenever you come across something that you want to comment on, write a quick blog entry. Ideally this won't add significantly to your 15 minutes of "blog time" during the windup or wind down portions of your day. The point isn't to let blogging take over your life. The point is to find a balance between your desire to plug into the conversation, and the blogosphere's ability to produce more information than you could ever want.

By writing your blog in private, it keeps things personal. Nobody needs to know who you are, but it gives you a space to make notes that you can follow up on later, establish some contacts, as well as to find that most precious of writing commodities: your personal "voice."

After you have read a handful of blogs for two weeks and written a few posts in your own blog over two weeks (the time devoted to this over a two-week period shouldn't total more than 2–3 hours), it is time to evaluate your thoughts on this whole blogging thing.

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