Effectively communicating ideas and building relationships takes some discipline. I have always liked Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The principles make sense and are applicable both in your personal and professional life.
A blog is a highly personal refection of the people and/or companies writing it. These principles can be perfectly applied to blogging and other two-way communications.
1. Develop content based on principles and values. While a blog cannot deliver “key messages” in a canned and contrite manner (this isn’t a soundbite medium), it can be written from the values and principles of its writer or company. Knowing these values for yourself is the key to developing a “voice” for your communication. For example, I value honesty, building meaningful relationships, learning new things, and fun.
2. Have a vision or purpose statement. Part of my personal mission statement includes these action items that I developed in under four minutes at the Covey Website:
- I will always seek to improve the depth and quality of my relationships in my personal and professional life
- I will never be afraid to stand up for what I believe is right
- I will be committed to lifelong learning and self improvement
- I will seek to treat others as I would wish to be treated
- I will not take myself too seriously and will have a life filled with laughter and fun
You can see how the values I have in #1 expand to become my action items. My mission statement, which could be lived out through my action items is to: “Explore how public relations can find an authentic voice in today's social media.”
3. Prioritize. Be sure to put first-things-first and don’t be driven by the agenda of forces around you. I notice that when I apply this principle regularly across-the-board I don’t have as much trouble with balance. My goal is to get one post out each weekday to “feed” my blog and extend the relationship with my readers. If I get that done, I don’t feel bad about turning my back on the blog for a few hours to get work done, spend time with my family, etc.
4. Think win-win. Blogs and other social media are meant to be a two-way conversation and that conversation often includes vehement disagreement. However, thinking win-win requires that we disagree with ideas and not the people that generated them. This helps to facilitate the discussion about the idea and possible come up with a solution that is better than the ideas of one person alone (see habit 6). This is the “magic” of social media.
5. Seek first to understand…then to be understood. This principle is best lived out in the comments section. Many blogs have the best discussions in the comments section include a back and forth between blog author and visitors that refines understanding of the idea. This is likely because the blog author seeks to understand the comments about his or her idea and incorporate them in the final.
6. Synergize. By building a community of respect, problems can be solved in a way that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. The refining of an idea by many can lead to the “magic” of social communication where 1+1=3.
7. Renew yourself. You don’t have much to offer if all you do is sit in front of a computer. We all need to renew in the areas of physical health, social networks, spiritual renewal and mental improvement. When you do this you have something new and interesting to bring to the conversation.
Update as of May 30, 2006: Darren at ProBlogger.net ran this story in his recent Group Writing project. I update this with the post, “Result of 80 Posts about Effective Blogging Habits.”