In fact what's the point of any business blog?
I believe every business should have a blog. Of course I would say that. It's my job. But even Joe the Plumber could pick up extra customers with a little help from the internet. Seriously though, there aren't many companies that wouldn't benefit from improved communication with current and potential customers.
Before looking at the benefits I'll briefly point out the pitfalls of blogging for business. The key thing to remember is that a blog is a public representation of you and your company. If it is badly written, sparse and out of date it will reflect badly on your brand.
The problem is that it's easy to start a blog, but rather harder to keep it going. It takes considerable time and effort. That's why a business could benefit from employing a professional blogger or an editorial team who will ensure that the blog is regularly updated and of a quality to show your business in the best light. This could cost a lot less than you might expect.
Let's see how your business might benefit:
1. A blog helps you to develop a personal relationship with customers and, perhaps, employees. Partly this is a result of the informal first-person style of blog writing. More importantly they're interactive. If there isn't a public response mechanism, it isn't a blog.
2. A blog will promote your corporate website. As any search engine optimization (SEO) expert will tell you, the way up the Google rankings is through links and current content. A regularly updated blog will provide both. But do make sure your blog is properly integrated with your main business website.
3. You'll attract better job applicants. The best people want to work for dynamic businesses that are passionate about what they do. And where do potential job applicants look first? Google. Then your website and blog.
4. Blogging can help to develop internal team spirit. Communication is not always perfect for any business with more than a handful of employees, not to mention freelances and contractors. A blog provides an informal repository for information about the business and a place where people with a direct stake in the business can interact.
5. A blog can improve your media profile. News events don't always happen when we want or can control them. Competitors make announcements, governments introduce legislation and accidents happen. Journalists need quotes and expertise. Where do they turn to first? The web and Google. If a person's not immediately available the informal style of a blog makes it the next best source for a quote. And when your blog's been used once journalists will come back for more.
6. Blogging increases your intelligence. No really. I don't mean it'll boost your IQ, but a good blog links and reacts to other blogs and news sources. The whole process of creating an informative online resource is a valuable activity in itself as an objective for research.
7. Your products can be improved by blogging. A blog provides the ideal place for customers and employees to offer suggestions for improvements and new products. Just make sure somebody's responsible for keeping an eye on the interaction. A blog entry followed by a whole string of complaints is not a good advertisement for your business.
8. Blogging gives your business authority. Everybody who runs a business is an expert on their sector. Putting your name to regular blog entries that display that expertise will boost your image, credibility and stature as a business leader and by extension that of your company.
Whatever the combination of reasons, a well-maintained blog will benefit your business. And if you're looking for a professionalto run your blog you could do worse than posting a project here on ki work .
This is one of an increasing number of articles that show how the recession is driving people to join professional social networking sites such as, in this case, LinkedIn and Xing. Online networks a magnet for job-seekers | Technology | Reuters
The fact that it was written by the Reuters news agency means it will be very widely read. Reuters has traditionally made its income from charging newspapers, television and radio stations across the world for the right to publish it articles.
For people who are insecure in their jobs this type of article represents both good and bad news. The increasing popularity of social networking services means employers will turn to them as a means of filling vacancies. But how do you differentiate yourself from the millions of other people also registering in the hope of improving their job prospects?
One of the people quoted in the Reuters article says it took him a long time to build up his network to the point where it helped him to find a job last year. Now it's much more difficult.
There is a powerful argument for investing a little cash to boost your online career. If nothing else it means you'll probably be competing in a space that's a little less crowded. After all if you're unemployed you've nothing better to do all day than post copies of your resume on free sites.
You'll still need to put some effort into networking. Money alone won't buy you friends. But it is worth cehecking out the premium options offered by social networking and employment websites.
On ki work's site we offer the option of paying $50 a month to become an accredited expert. This gives increased prominence to your online brand, allows you to certify professionals and buyers while, most importantly, giving you the opportunity to earn from leveraging your network. You'll find plenty more information here at ki work.
Of course most people won't pay a subscription for any online service and many of them may prosper. But is worth thinking about whether it might be worth boosting your earning prospects by investing a little cash along with your time.
Michael Wolff, ki work's CEO and founder, is putting his skill and experience where his mouth is by becoming the category leader for International Outsourcing Consulting. As CEO of Lydiastar Telecommunications Michael was a pioneer in the world of outsourcing.
He explains: "I founded ki work to build a Web 2.0 infrastructure where freelance entrepreneurs can collaborate and find work from wherever they are. 'Live local - work global' is the motto.
"With resources in all other areas of business globalizing, the remote workforce is an inevitable solution to modern business needs. ki work is powering this revolution."
Michael will be explaining why he became a category leader on ki work too. See ki work webinars for more details.
If you're an outsourcing consultant, or are looking for one, you can post your services or projects you need doing for free at the International Outsourcing Consulting marketplace.
Tawnya Sutherland is bringing her expertise, enthusiasm and huge array of contacts to lead the Virtual Assistant marketplace on ki work. Tawnya is the founder of VAnetworking.com, the world's largest membership-based social networking community for virtual assistants.
A Virtual Assistant (VA) is a highly-trained independent entrepreneur who provides a myriad of business support services virtually via phone, fax and internet-based technology to support and meet the growing needs of businesses worldwide. Partnering with a VA reduces stress, protects cash flow, eliminates administrative hassles, and enables business people to find the success they originally set out to achieve.
“As a Certified Internet Marketing Specialist, it is my goal in life to make the term ‘Virtual Assistant’ a household name worldwide,” says Tawnya, “With ki work our community extends its reach beyond the first wave of social networking. We now have the ability to find more opportunities by increasing our visibility.”
Michael Wolff, CEO and Founder of ki work, says: "Tawnya brings a true understanding of the power of collaboration. Her ability to educate and inspire the virtual assistant community makes Tawnya the ideal leader for this marketplace.”
Tawnya will be hosting a webinar about why she joined ki work as a category leader on Thursday 13th November (register here).
If you're a Virtual Assistant or need a VA, it's free to post your services and any projects that need doing - simply go to the Virtual Assistant marketplace to get started.
For Blog Action Day 2008 ...
People have long accepted the Chinese proverb: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." (Not this similar quote here) It sounds great, as long as you are not the owner, shareholder or worker on a factory fishing ship. Then the newly-trained fisherman could be seen as a threat.
This isn't just being trite, taking people out of poverty isn't an isolated action that will have no impact on the rest of the world. My example of industrialized fishing isn't accidental. Here's a frequently brutal use of technology that provides us with cheap food, but can also be blamed for destroying the livelihoods of thousands of people and cultures.
There are alternative routes to development such as tourism. Ibiza, the island where I live, used to be the poorest place in the poorest country in Western Europe, Spain. In 30 years Ibiza has become one of the wealthiest provinces in Spain, a country which now has among the best living standards in Europe. And the root of its prosperity are the invisible exports represented by tourist foreign-currency spending.
Other countries are using the money sent back by emigrants to develop local economies. For instance, when I've visited Silicon Valley I've always been struck by the numbers of South Asians. Most I've met have been sending money home to India and dream of returning to set up their own businesses. On a lower-paid scale the labor camps of the Middle East are teeming with building workers with similar plans.
The problem with all these methods of regeneration is they're not exactly appropriate when the world's economies are in turmoil and we're confronting global warming and other potential environmental catastrophes. Most of all, migrant working will tend to improve the economy of the place of work, rather than the countries of the families left behind.
The internet however, offers a route to both education and paid work, without the need to travel. The technology and infrastructure available, which is steadily becoming more accessible, could provide millions with the equivalent of 'virtual fishing rods' - not just aid, but the ability access work from anywhere in the world without having to travel.
Access to telecommunications is improving everywhere, both in the developed and the developing world. For instance, the Common Services Centres (CSC) project run by India's central government is bringing 100,000 telecenters across rural areas as the first stage of a 600,000 telecenter program. Of course this won't make India's population of over a billion instantly literate, but it will give millions of the country's knowledge workers access to world markets. That could mean giving western corporations access to a huge source of cheap intellectual labor or it could be used for something fairer.
Through an online marketplace such as ki work, colleagues can collaborate across national boundaries to bid for outsourced projects. It's 'fair trade' because the bidding process is transparent. Instead of working for a local outsourcer or a western corporation people are working for themselves to create businesses and, of course, spending the proceeds locally.
Of course, It can't be denied that this represents a threat to the better-paid knowledge workers of developed countries. Currently outsourcing frequently means companies simply firing more expensive employees and replacing them with cheaper alternatives. But it also offers opportunities.
The ki work platform (and there are others) enables those who could otherwise be thrown on the scrapheap to use their local contacts and specialist skills in areas such as project management, communication, IT and web development to create virtual businesses online. Potentially this is a great win-win situation. Every individual can make the most of their combination of skill and price no matter where in the world they are.
This post was written for Blog Action Day, "an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. [The] aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion." Over to you...
In the world of technology you have to be quick to use the latest terminology. Wait too long and the useful phrase morphs into jargon and meaningless sales-speak. That's what seems to be happening to the term 'cloud computing'. I used to think I knew what it meant and saw how it could link with the ki work model. Now I'm not so sure.
I certainly would not want to disagree with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. (Well I'd certainly think twice before arguing with him face to face!) According to the Wall Street Journal's Business Technology blog this is how he recently described cloud computing at Oracle's analysts' day:
"The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than womens' fashion. Maybe I’m an idiot, but I have no idea what anyone is talking about. What is it? It’s complete gibberish. It’s insane. When is this idiocy going to stop?
“We’ll make cloud computing announcements. I’m not going to fight this thing. But I don’t understand what we would do differently in the light of cloud computing other than change the wording of some of our ads. That’s my view.”
Maybe Ellison's right. It is often the latest buzz phrase that marketing departments apply to products that last week used to be called software as a service (SaaS), webware or just about anything that can be manipulated through a browser. Funnily enough much of this sounds rather similar to the 'thin client computing' Ellison used to champion a few years ago.
He probably hates the way 'cloud computing' lacks a precise definition.
But that lack of clarity rather fits with the idea of something big, slightly opaque without a clearly defined shape. I certainly see the cloud that way and if it's really SaaS, webware or something else, frankly I don't give a damn.
What I'm looking for are services that enable me to run a business from anywhere I've access to a browser. I want to have corporate-style software, but without the financial outlay. It never ceases to amaze me, but that's what I'm getting. For instance, I'm writing this blog using Writer, part of the Zoho suite of software. This started as an online alternative to Microsoft Office, but it's gone way beyond that to include modules such as CRM, invoicing and even HR. And almost all of it's free to small businesses. I don't care if it's not strictly cloud. It's what I need.
In fact it doesn't matter to me if the services I choose to run a business are even software. There are facilities that were recently only available to businesses of a certain size with a physical office. Now there are online services to transcribe dictation or virtual assistants who can be found through ki work. These are services provided by human beings.
Until recently I would have seen this combination of downscalable software and human-driven services as a way for small businesses to compete with corporations. That was an underestimation. In reality many new small businesses actually have an unfair advantage over 'traditional companies'.
If they are virtual businesses they won't be saddled with the debt, expensive real estate and old ways of working which can hamper their older, larger competitors. Through the cloud, or whatever you want to call it, collaborative online ventures have access to productivity tools which are often as powerful as those used by major corporations.
No wonder big business CEOs (and that includes Ellison) are nervous. Once knowledge workers start to organize themselves there's a real threat to the corporate model.
It's already happening. Mozilla's Firefox has taken a substantial share of the browser market, despite Microsoft's dominance. Linux continues to grow in popularity as an operating system. And millions of small retailers earn money through eBay.
We have the tools so all that knowledge workers require is a platform, a place on the internet where they can work together to develop businesses and sell the output. Take a look at ki work and see how virtual business outsourcing can work in practice.
Martin Blundell is the latest specialist business leader to bring his expertise and vast array of contacts to ki work's global virtual outsourcing marketplace. He will take charge of 25 categories helping to turn ki work into the online destination for virtual outsourced biotech and pharma projects. Martin will also be sharing his reasons for joining and how he plans to develop a thriving outsourcing network in a webinar on Tuesday 21st October (register here).
Martin is a world leader in his field. He is the founder and moderator of the 25,000-strong Biotech and Pharma Professionals Network (BioPharm) which includes the Medical Device Professionals Network, the Medical Diagnostics Professionals Network, the Clinical Trials Professionals Network and the Life Science Mentors Network.
He has led projects in biotech and pharmaceuticals for 19 years, meeting challenges in financial results, quality and schedule. Martin puts much of his success down to his unusual combination of business and technical experience which includes MBA training and a research background in Molecular Biology.
“My goal is to nurture each life sciences category to the best of my ability,” Martin says. “With ki work my groups now have a resource to collaborate and continue to supply the growing demand for remote workforce in the life sciences community.”
Michael Wolff, CEO and founder of ki work says: “With Martin, we bring a versatile member of the life sciences community to our leadership team. There is no doubt that Martin is truly the connector needed to develop the very best teams on ki work.
"With ki work growing at a rate of 400 new professionals a day, organizations seeking remote workers are quickly seeing the potential. As our concerns with the current economy couple with energy issues, remote and virtual workforces are becoming more and more attractive. Teams that can quickly come together with no concern for geography will become valuable assets to organizations trying to stay competitive."
What is ki work?
ki work (http://ki-work.com) is the online marketplace for those looking to outsource or find online work. With over 450 categories managed by leaders, there is a greater transparency and development of trust for those looking to fill projects. There are no fees for listing services, listing projects, or winning bids. The network is designed to help the right person find the right worker at the right price.
The founder of the 6,000-member Supply Chain Network International (SCNI) Chuck Zdrojowy is the latest high-profile business leader to join the ki work online marketplace as a category leader for supply chain management (SCM). Chuck will also be giving a webinar talking about his reasons for joining on Tuesday, 22nd October at 10am PDT - 1pm EDT (register here ).
Chuck is extremely well known in the world of supply chain management with 17 years of hands-on experience. He has been involved in every area of SCM including B2B, B2C, e-commerce for retail and manufacturers as well as with third party logistics providers.
Chuck explains why he has joined ki work. "As a career SCM professional/consultant the opportunity to be associated with ki work was immediately obvious to me. What made it even more interesting to me is that I have spent the last five years leveraging much of the new media to help SCM professionals network and connect better, it has become a passion for me.
"Networking may be the most important and yet most under developed tool in many a SCM professional's tool box. The importance of a network is significantly more important to the freelance consultant because that is how they find their own projects. There is not a company behind them marketing and selling consulting project for them to roll onto when the current project is over.
"The opportunity to be the ki work category leader for SCM allows me to leverage my professional experience in supply chain management, my experience in connecting SCM professionals and in building professional communities for SCM pros. How could I not jump on this opportunity? Ki work is helping me take what I am doing for myself and my profession to the next level and beyond."
CEO Michael Wolff says: "We welcome Chuck. He's joining more than 400 professionals a day who are signing up for ki work. Organizations seeking remote workers are seeing the potential of recruiting from this fast-growing marketplace.
"Anxiety about the economy combined with concerns about the financial and environmental impact of travel are making the idea of remote virtual workforces more and more attractive. As organizations try to stay competitive they'll want to use online teams that can be organized quickly and cost-effectively using the best combination of people no matter where they happen to be in the world."
What is ki work?
Ki work (http://ki-work.com) is the leading online marketplace for virtual business outsourcing. It allows organisations to recruit teams of experts, professionals and specialists in hundreds of categories from across the globe.
There are no fees for registration, listing projects or winning bids. The network is designed to help the right organisation to find the right team at the right price for its project.
Ki work's eventual aim is to become the eBay of global collaborative working.
Read the press release: ki work welcomes Chuck Zrodrojowy
Tags: business process outsourcing, collaborative ventures, freelance marketplaces, freelancing, offshoring, online work, SaaS, SCM, social networking, software as a service, supply chain management, virtual outsourcing
Wednesday 28th January
9am PDT - 12pm EDT
Anders Abrahamsson on Sustainability Entrepreneurship