By Dave Pollard
For the last eight years, I was working at a desk in an architectural office, and it was not until the last couple of years that I was no longer the youngest person at the firm. At that point I realized I was becoming an â€œoldâ€ person, and I felt as if I lost my cool, computer-culture edge. So when I returned to IIT for an M.S. Arch degree last fall, I was dedicated to learning about the new information age that I had been missing at my desk. I figured I would beef up my LinkedIn profile, start a Twitter account, try to build a website, and try to figure out what all of the hoopla was about. I also decided to start a blog on WordPress, even though that seemed so Web 1.0.
My blog, titled, â€œTake Back the Building : Architecture Controlled by Architectsâ€, was created for several reasons. First, it was a place to archive my thoughts and findings as I ventured into my thesis study. Second, I had never used WordPress, and I was fascinated to learn about this powerful, free, and open-source tool. Lastly, I thought it would be nice for friends, family, and colleagues to see what I was working on, so I didnâ€™t have to explain my study to them every time I saw them. I could just say, â€œRead the blog.â€
I installed some open-source WordPress plugins to see how many people were viewing the site, what browser they were using, how many times my site showed up in searches, and some other statistics. I also used some plugins to sync my posts with LinkedIn and Facebook. The statistics were far from overwhelming. Unfortunately, I had not yet become the Perez Hilton of architecture. I did soon learn, however, that it was not the quantity of page views that was important, but instead the quality of each page viewer.
In February, I wrote a short post on a presentation that I saw from architect and author, Sarah Susanka. A few days later, her publicist found the post and contacted me to thank me for my thoughts. Shortly thereafter, Sarah herself posted a kind comment on my blog. We continued an ongoing conversation which has now resulted in an employment opportunity, working with her and a local developer. Similarly, in April I wrote a positive, but somewhat critical post about an AEC industry internet startup, Cadreas.com. I have since been contacted by the founder and executive team asking me to join them by assisting in the development of their web portal.
Although LinkedIn has been a valuable tool for expanding my professional network, it has been my blog that has led to more concrete career and entrepreneurial opportunities. LinkedIn allows you to introduce your credentials and the people you know, and personal meetings can give insights into your personality. But it is something like a blog that tells the whole story. Your posts tell the story of your true interests, passions, and thoughts; otherwise you would not take the time to write it.