Don't Blog…Because of "Negative Reputational Value"?

David Beisel has a post on his Genuine VC blog which doesn’t make much sense to me. He recalls a lunch with a fellow VC friend and they came up with a list of five perceived reputational risks for professional bloggers. While I think we need MORE people to outline the bad parts of blogging (I’m sick of the rah-rah-rah stuff), this post is misguided, I think. Overall I disagree with a philosophy of thinking about things in terms of how other people perceive you. Sure, reputation is important. But being true to yourself and “shooting from the heart” – if I may be so trite – is more important. I will comment on risks 2-4:

2. Bloggers are sometimes perceived to have many negative attributes. Some believe that bloggers are overly-bearing “used-car salesman-types” in selling themselves or the extremely ego-centric people who speak the loudest but don’t really know what they are talking about.

It’s easy to blow through this label by….not exhibiting those negative attributes. Like everything, there are and there aren’t people that fit a certain mold. It’s up to you which mold you want to fit.

3. Professionals (especially VCs) should have a network already to leverage; blogging could signal that one’s network is weak. Blogging is in effect a “networking” activity which connects people to other people. Some view bloggers as those who don’t have a strong network and use it as a crutch, or as those who aren’t successful in other networking venues.

Perhaps blogging is a “networking activity,” but perhaps not. Perhaps it’s someone who wants to express his or her thoughts. Or communicate in one-to-many fashion with his family. Who really knows. Also, it can be a sign of the strength of one’s network if someone’s blog is well-read.

4. Professionals are busy people; blogging could imply that one isn’t busy with “real” work. Serious blogging takes serious effort, and all professionals are limited by the amount of time that they have during the day. Perhaps bloggers can’t find productive uses of their time and are using blogging as a meager substitute for nothing.

Perhaps. Or one could more accurately argue that professionals who blog see it as an investment which has a payoff. Maybe the payoff is in saved time (being able to communicate with a large number of people in one click). Maybe the payoff is in emotional fulfillment which translates into more time down the line. I can’t think of one professional blogger who blogs because she couldn’t find anything else to do.

5. Blogging provides an uninhibited permanent record to ones’ thoughts. Yes, permanent. Everyone is wrong some of the time. (In fact, VCs are wrong a lot of the time with their investments). When someone is wrong and there is an easily accessible record of it, that individual must either admit the error if his/her ways or ignore it to cover it up. Both of these are difficult actions to take, and could potentially leave someone worse off than taking no vocal opinion at all. And with the internet being archived in the manner that it is, it’s clear that anything published online will be able to be accessed forever.

Isn’t this a good thing? People who are honest and transparent don’t try to hide mistakes; they try to learn from them. Most of us have had the experience of posting something stupid and finding out soon enough how off we were – a humbling experience. If I had the choice of working with someone whose record of thoughts were accessible to anyone – the good, bad, and ugly – versus someone who presented a bland resume that was an unbelievable record of achievement, success, and more achievement, I would think of the latter as simply that: unbelievable.

8 Responses to Don't Blog…Because of "Negative Reputational Value"?

  1. Bo says:

    Case in point: see Brad Feld’s post about how NewsGator / FeedDemon responded to user outcry — all of which took place via blog-based communication.

    link to feld.com

  2. Chris Yeh says:

    The fact is that some people are comfortable with putting themselves out there, and some are not.

    Those that are not should not be blogging.

    Of course there are risks to blogging, but the opportunity to connect with other people generally outweighs those risks.

    I know VCs I respect who blog religiously, and I know VCs I respect who think that those VCs who blog are stark raving mad.

    It all depends on your personal style.

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