Why you should write for professional growth

I have always liked writing. It brings me joy to write. I started as a little girl when my mom bought me a journal. That journal turned into a habit that I still do today. I have a whole trunk full of notebooks that, one day after I’m gone, my grandkids will read. Maybe my life will be interesting enough to turn it into a biography. But that is the long game!

The topic of this post is how to use writing to advance your career. Although I liked writing and did it for personal reasons, I wasn’t sure how to use it for professional growth.

In my first job out of college, I started a blog. It was 2010, and all the advice sites said blogging was (and still is!) a great way to talk about your work. I started a blog. And since I was freshly out of college, I thought I knew everything. I posted about my work and how I thought the projects and management could do things differently. I posted my blog on LinkedIn. Without thinking about it, I was called into my boss’s office. She had read my post. It embarrassed her, and she asked me to take it down.

I stopped blogging. I became too nervous to post on LinkedIn after that. Not too much later, I was let go from that job. I think it was best for everyone. Because that led me to Atos, where I became a business analyst.

My boss at Atos at the time suggested I read a book called The Perfect Plant. As I read it, I thought this would be great material to blog about. It was specifically about work, but it did apply to my new career, and I could write personal antidotes from my experience working in manufacturing plants. My blog was reborn as I started to write again. Plus, my mom cheered me on in the comments.

A screenshot from one of my first blogs.
A screenshot from one of my first blogs.

The importance of writing in professional development

“Writing is one of the most powerful tools in the professional toolbox, even if you’re not a writer by trade,” said Robyn Schopp, Chief Happiness Officer at Gordeux Consulting.

Since I started blogging in 2010, my writing has contributed to my career growth. I write articles for my company’s blog, co-wrote a whitepaper, and published it online. Most importantly, my writing led me to landing clients who wanted me to write for them. And that led me to the metaverse strategist role I’m in now.

Did I know writing would get me to where I am today? No. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t identify writing goals to get started.

Identify your writing goals

“Writing about your trade… can help you process that information AND develop skills for presenting information in a way that can help you reach your professional goals.”

Robyn Schopp, Chief Happiness Officer, Gordeaux Consulting

What do you want to achieve through writing?

I started blogging to learn the book I was assigned to read at work. My goal was to show my boss that I took the assignment seriously and teach readers about the book too. As I got more experience, I wrote about the types of work in IT projects. I wrote about the difference between reading about the software development lifecycle and actually partaking in it.

“Writing about your trade, whether in a journal, your social media, a low-key blog, or as part of your work can help you process that information AND develop skills for presenting information in a way that can help you reach your professional goals,” said Schopp.

Here are some examples of what you can achieve through writing:

  • Tips and tricks you learned through experience.
  • Advice from seasoned professionals or your mentor.
  • A way to learn something new in your industry.
  • A way to network and meet new people in your field.
  • Summaries of books you read.

How can writing help you reach your professional goals?

“No matter your line of work, learning to write with clarity and concision can boost your professional success!”

Robyn Schopp, Chief Happiness Officer, Gordeaux Consulting

Writing, no matter what your profession, can help you reach your professional goals. Writing, and more importantly, publishing your writing, can set you up as a thought leader. Schopp explained, “No matter your line of work, learning to write with clarity and concision can boost your professional success!” When you look for a new job, your writing can set you apart as a professional by showcasing your experience outside your resume.

Did you ever hear of the saying, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? That’s what writing is – another basket. Write and publish your work in a variety of places to diversify your professional standing and establish your personal brand.

Remember, the only person who can advance your career is you.

Publish to reach your professional goals.

  • Your personal blog or website
  • Social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
  • Medium
  • Your company’s website
  • Industry websites
  • Other people’s blogs in your network
  • Calls for publications

Assess your current writing skills

Assess your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?

I feel more comfortable writing formal, informative articles. My personal weaknesses in writing are creativity, narrative, and fiction. My biggest strength is writing about technology in a way that people who aren’t subject matter experts can understand.

Here are some examples of writing strengths and weaknesses:

Writing strengths

  • Clarity: The ability to express ideas in a clear and concise manner
  • Organization: The ability to structure written work in a logical and easy-to-follow manner
  • Vocabulary: A rich and varied vocabulary that allows for precise and descriptive language
  • Grammar and mechanics: Proficiency in grammar and mechanics, such as spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure

Writing weaknesses

Clarity: Struggling to express ideas clearly and concisely. I suggest reading Stephen King’s On Writing or How to Write Clearly by Tom Albrighton.

Organization: Struggling to structure written work in a logical and easy-to-follow manner. You can use tools like ChatGPT to create outlines. I asked ChatGPT to create an outline for this post.

ChatGPT describes a blog outline

Vocabulary: A limited vocabulary that may result in imprecise or repetitive language. Writing online works best when you use simple words. You don’t have to use flowery vocabulary to be a thought leader. Cut out filler words like basically, so, very, and really.

Grammar and mechanics: Struggling with grammar and mechanics, such as spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure. Use tools like Grammarly to help catch punctuation errors. But don’t trust Grammarly for everything. Sometimes you need to check it too. And don’t forget to turn on spellcheck!

Grammarly Unsinkable achievement

Build on your strengths and address your weaknesses

There are multiple ways you can build on your strengths and improve your writing weaknesses. One way to build on your strengths is to submit your work for feedback.

The first thing I hear people say when it comes to writing is that they aren’t good at it. However, in my experience, once people start writing, they realize they have a story to tell! Half the battle is to put words on the page. Other methods to address weaknesses as a writer are:

  • Attend workshops
  • Register for writing conferences
  • Sign up for online writing courses
  • Participate in writing groups (local or online)
  • Seek feedback from colleagues or a writing coach

Get started writing

Don’t fret about the tool; just start. Whether it’s paper, a notebook, or a computer. That’s all that matters. You can edit, format, and choose your app of choice later. I keep a notebook in my car for when inspiration strikes. I also use the notes app that came on my phone. At a later time, I aggregate my thoughts together on WordPress or Google Docs.

Writing as a tool for thought leadership

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

What is thought leadership, and why is it important?

Thought leadership is the practice of sharing your subject matter expertise. This can be in writing, speaking, consulting, etc.

Remember when I said no one can advance your career but you? One of my mentors told me that. And that’s where writing can help. Use your writing to position yourself and your personal brand. Showcase your expertise, tell your stories. The thing you think everyone knows? Guess what. They don’t. And they’ll be grateful to learn from you about it!

How can writing help you establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry or field?

Tips for writing content that showcases your expertise and insights:

  • Stay up to date with industry trends and developments. I do this by going on LinkedIn and following people in my industry and interest on Twitter. I see what they’re doing, then I try it out myself like no code or augmented reality.
  • Conduct research and gather data to support your ideas. One idea is to read industry reports and then distill the most important information in a blog post or on social media.
  • Use storytelling to illustrate your points and make them more engaging. I did this by using my own work experience to highlight processes and systems in my field of work.
  • Share your own experiences and case studies.
  • Offer solutions to problems or challenges in your field.
  • Use a clear and confident writing style that reflects your authority on the topic.

How young professionals can publish their writing

Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

Some websites and publications accept submissions from young professionals. The specific opportunities will depend on your field, industry, and writing style. Here are a few general tips for finding writing opportunities as a young professional:

Research

Research websites and publications in your field or industry, and look for “calls for submissions” or guidelines for writers. Many websites and publications have a dedicated page for submissions, or they may have specific guidelines for what they are looking for in terms of content, length, and style.

Network

Network and build relationships with other professionals in your field. Attend events and conferences, join online groups or communities, and volunteer for committees or working groups. This can help you get noticed and make connections that may lead to writing opportunities.

Create your own newsletter or blog

Start a blog, create a social media presence, or publish your work on a website like Medium or Substack. This can help you build a following and demonstrate your writing skills to potential clients.

Be proactive

Be proactive and pitch your writing to websites and publications. You have your own perspectives, expertise, and experiences that are valuable to others. Don’t be afraid to reach out to editors or content managers and offer to write for them. Be sure to have a clear idea of what you want to write about and how it would fit with the website or publication’s content and audience.

Writing as a stepping stone to speaking engagements

Writing can help you get invited to speak at conferences, workshops, or other events. Here are tips for using writing to increase your visibility and credibility as a speaker:

  • Publish articles, blog posts, or other written content on your website or in industry publications.
  • Use social media to promote your writing and engage with your audience.
  • Create a portfolio of writing samples that showcase your expertise and writing style.
  • Offer to write guest posts or contribute to panel discussions or webinars.
  • Build relationships with conference organizers or event planners and let them know about your writing and speaking experience.
  • Use your writing to demonstrate your knowledge and passion for your topic, and show how you can add value as a speaker.

How young professionals can speak at conferences

Lily Speaking at Cinci Startup Week, 2018

There are many conferences and events that welcome young professionals as speakers, but the specific opportunities will depend on your field, industry, and expertise. Here are a few general tips for finding speaking opportunities as a young professional:

  1. Research conferences and events in your field or industry. Look for “calls for speakers” or panelists. Many conferences have a dedicated page on their website for submissions. You can also create a Google Alert for “Call for Speakers” and check social media for the same keyword.
  2. Reach out to organizations or associations that represent young professionals in your field. These groups may have their own events or conferences, or they may be able to connect you with other speaking opportunities.
  3. Consider joining a professional speaking organization, such as the National Speakers Association, Toastmasters, or Professional Speaking Association. These organizations can provide resources and support for aspiring speakers and may have opportunities for members to speak at their events or conferences.
  4. Network and build relationships with other professionals in your field. Attend events and conferences, join online groups or communities, and volunteer for committees or working groups. This can help you get noticed and make connections that may lead to speaking opportunities.
  5. Pitch yourself as a speaker. Whether you believe it or not, you have a unique perspective, expertise, or experience that is valuable to an audience. Don’t be afraid to reach out to conference organizers or event planners and offer to speak. Be sure to have a clear idea of what you want to speak about and how you can add value to the event.

I write for the joy of it. I write because I can make a living from it. I write because it helps me learn, and I can share my knowledge with others. No matter your field or experience, you, too can write! With every word you put down, your skills will grow. Make sure to share your work – you never know where it will take you.

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