Your first reaction is to say: “You can’t train with Training Blogs alone.” You are absolutely correct; however, it’s human nature to look for the quickest and easiest way to do anything, and it takes some prodding to be thorough and detailed. It is certainly faster today than it was in the past to learn enough to develop a business, a product line–and a well-designed set of interactive services like training and development.
Blogs on any particular subject matter can offer a great starting point for finding the focus we want, for getting ideas, and for getting perspectives.
I started to call this article: Tricks and Treats for Using Training Blogs.
I know it’s not exactly the season, but it is always the right moment. The Internet and its World Wide Web of Information are a constant source of basic training information, how-to’s, best practices, definitions and various points-of-view. Truly, that can be said about any subject we choose as evidenced by this very web source you are on right now: The Free Management Library. We know it’s a great resource–not only because it’s free, but because it’s also offers topics you need to know about in business, in non-profits and even in government–topics like leadership, management, communication, and of course, training and development as well as many others.
But I’m not just here to promote The Free Management Library and the Training and Development blog. I want to talk about taking what’s out there and making it work for us. I want you to go out and find other sources as well as this one and come back to us and tell us about them. And build. And do it often.
What did we do before when we needed information? I name just a few. For example, we used to research the physical library or bookstores when we needed information. We sought out books, trade periodicals and even magazines and newspapers. We can do all that on the web and more.
Back before we had blogs and people willing to share this information with anyone who could access it, we may have apprenticed in a company and shadowed someone until we knew his or her job well enough to make it ours. Either way, the point is that we are learning from others. If a blog or article isn’t enough, and it isn’t, we can still contact the author directly. Hard to do, when the author of the book wrote that article sever years ago. Today, it’s easier and information can easily be today’s information.
Look at the way most blogs operate. Blog sites vary from personal diatribes or musings on various topics tocovering hard news and current events. Most is in between. Struggling business people or business wannabees have blogs to draw attention to themselves. It makes a website more complete. It gives you a chance to sell by example and sample. See the site for what it is, but you can find information you can use if you look. Maybe this entrepreneur did something especially well and gives you an idea for your business. A best practice perhaps, not a copy.
Other blogs may provide a vehicle for writers to write about topics they are expert in or just write a few basics. Remember what I said about the basic information, the definitions, the how-to’s–this is it. This is a jumping off place. We can search more than one place for the basics because those basics may have changed, or the terminology, or the processes, or the new basics may include areas you may want to include if you were aware of them. From here we become more detailed-oriented, seeking out the best practices and looking at perspectives and comparing those to ours. We are beginning to actually use the information. We weed out the okay stuff and note the good stuff.
Here’s one thing not available in hardcover books: You can become colleagues with the professionals you wish to emulate. That networking is invaluable in fleshing out what you can find on your own. Now, you have a vehicle, either personally via a blog contact, or through a professional or social network to ask and answer questions. You can ask the kinds of specific questions that you need to have answered. Before you may have had to assume–and we all know assuming anything without a lot of credibility behind that assumption is never a good thing.
What training blogs–the kind I am addressing here–should not be is a way to promote yourself as a training company, training developer, trainer, etc. That information is out there. All you need is the link. People are more likely to click on the link than read all about you–unless they wanted to know it in the first place. I have a bio on my website; I also have a home page that talks about my training philosophy–what makes me who I am, and hopefully, what makes me different. I can’t really sell a fit.
Personally I’m turned off by sites that do that. Tell me what you’ve got to offer and I’ll see the connection. That’s me. This probably comes from a deep-seated abhorrence of being “hard sold” anything, but you have a chance to choose and keep the same information, note it high on your list or eliminate it if you wish. It’s not up to me. Maybe the way I am about those sites is not you. Maybe it doesn’t even bother you because you can filter. Great thing about the Internet; there are approaches for every taste.
I tend to write longer articles than most. For awhile, it bothered me that I wrote more than what I considered average, but then I started to look at what I was writing. I write training facts but also communication and psychological ones, but I write from what I know. I write perspective. I write commentary about training approaches, implementing training, designing training, professional development, and more. I try to put the obvious in a not-so-obvious place. I want to give people to think about. That’s me. Generally, if you read what I write, you get more than the basics, more than a how-to, more than a definition. You get another way of looking at those things, and maybe a summary of how others might see it. One day I might write from a trainer’s perspective and another day from a manager’s perspective.
As someone experienced in the above areas, this is the perfect place for me to be. Not having my own business so established I have no time to write about the subjects I talk to clients about, I get to do that and receive some recognition and links to my own web page. People start to get to know me professionally.
This brings me to what the Internet and blogging is not good for. It is not the way to get the world to notice you. Stardom is random. Talent in the right place at the right time. You probably are very good at what you do. I think I am good at what I do. There is a world of people out there who think the same way we do. If they don’t, they are probably depressed. The blog is a start. Promote your ideas, your approach, but not you so much. Provide opportunity for people to find you easily. Invite them. (Don’t sell them, in my opinion.) They will come to you where they can get the most information and connect with you if that is their purpose. You prefer select clientele–those who may actually want your services.
As for the blogs we use to learn from? Also a start of a terrific learning experience.
For more resources about training, see the Training library.
For more on training, communication, performance topics, check out my website. Look under the category of What I Say. As always, these thoughts are my own, but feel free to add yours. Anywhere you have the opportunity. Just think before you publish. For a look at the human side of training from my Cave Man perspective, please check out my book, The Cave Man Guide to Training and Development. Happy training.