I work in an industry that’s hungry to have their VPs, directors, and senior technical staff to become thought leaders. Informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality and know and show how to replicate their success. For their writers not so much…
My road to writing articles is rather circuitous. I went to college to become a journalist. Woodward & Bernstein were childhood heroes of mine. A job in the college computer lab turned me onto technical writing as a career. Along the way, during an economic downturn, I began to write articles again. It was never a full-time thing. What it became was an outlet for the English major still left in me. Throughout my technical writing career, I’ve always kept abreast of technology trends and developments in the industry such as mergers, acquisitions, and market strategies. The problem was that few of my other technical writer peers had the same interest. Likewise, I also had (and still have) a deep interest in technology. It was always disappointing to me to find out some technical writers who aren’t passionate or even interested in technology.
I wrote articles regularly when I was a freelancer for CNET TechRepublic. I had the benefit of working with some editors there who really challenged me. My work there taught me how to develop my own opinions and positions on the state of technology at that time.
While employers want their managers and technical staff members to be active in the industry as thought leaders as part of furthering their own corporate brand, not asking the same of their writers is wrong. When I speak about thought leadership, it’s more than just a marketing activity. I have thought leadership experience to offer an organization from my own bylined articles. The market analysis is mine. Technology trend spotting is something I do naturally because I pitch articles into a market where there are more freelance writers than bylines to go around.