Why Canada’s IT managers should sign up for Blogging Idol

I’m certainly no Ryan Seacrest – I just don’t own enough hair gel – but for better or worse, I’m going to be your host for IT World Canada’s very first Blogging Idol. Let me explain.

ComputerWorld Canada decided we would host a contest on our blog network where IT professionals could come online and offer their thoughts on a variety of issues. We’re ponying up some serious cash for this: $1,000 for the blogger who drives the most traffic overall, and a Nikon Coolpix digital camera, among other prizes. Although we’ll be keeping an eye out for anything libellous, we’re going to be pretty hands-off in regards to what’s posted, too. You can sign up here.

We’re asking a lot of those who contribute, of course. Blogging on a regular basis for four weeks straight – May 19 to June 13 – is a demanding job for people who already have pretty demanding jobs. Putting your thoughts into print can also be intimidating, especially if you haven’t done a lot of blogging in the past. It’s also not easy to be strategic about it, because blog entries can heat up based on who links where, the topic being discussed or even the kind of keywords you use. We couldn’t put a ringer in this contest even if we wanted to save the prize money for ourselves.

To provide some inspiration, I recently posted my personal choices for the 10 best technology bloggers in Canada, which ranged from ex-newspaper reporter Mark Evans to Startup North’s Jevon McDonald. The one thing I didn’t do was connect the dots and point out what these bloggers shared to make them so successful. A lot of it is hard work – most of them were doing this long before blogs became a popular vehicle for self expression. A great deal of it is sheer talent, both what they’ve gained on the job and what they are able to do with words. But another significant factor is their passion for the topics they blog about. These are not, by and large, bloggers who are in it for the money (several of them would probably laugh at that notion). Instead, they blog because they want to be heard.

IT managers often have a difficult time making themselves heard. They speak about useful applications, bad surfing habits or poor use of resources, and are ignored. They are asked to speak at vendor conferences but are stuck dealing with a pre-written script. They get quoted – or, as some have told us, misquoted – in publications like ComputerWorld Canada. Blogging is obviously not a replacement for face-to-face contact, but it can be a way for IT managers to articulate their thoughts and opinions in a way that provides links to supporting evidence and an electronic paper trial. It’s a communication skill that may become more important within the next decade than it has been in this one.

Although Blogging Idol is a contest, the “competition” is only a part of the plan. We’ll also be profiling some of our top contestants, offering tips on better blogging and creating opportunities for coworkers to pledge their support. Best of luck to everyone who enters. I can’t wait to starting reading these posts.

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