Each week, Richard Branson answers Entrepreneur.com readers' questions by drawing from his own business experience. Recent blog posts have discussed multitasking, why entrepreneurs sometimes struggle with formal education and how to increase employee engagement.
Branson is a notoriously busy man (look out for our upcoming print issue, which hits newsstands on September 23, for an update on his most recent exploits), so it's not unsurprising that readers often wonder if he actually writes the numerous columns and blog posts attributed to him.
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The serial entrepreneur and LinkedIn Influencer took to the platform to address this very question in, appropriately, a blog post. "As tempting as it is to reply to each person with a resounding ‘yes!’, I hope that what my posts actually say is enough to prove it is yours truly behind these words," he wrote. The post was published as part of LinkedIn's Behind the Scenes series, in which more than 60 influential business leaders revealed the details involved in one aspect of their work.
Here are a few of Branson's favorite writing tips.
Use conversations with friends and co-workers as inspiration for potential topics. Writer's block can happen to anyone. If you're truly stuck, Branson recommends simply paying attention to the conversations taking place around you: "What do you talk to your friends about? What was that interesting article you read the other day? What was everyone chatting about in the office at lunch? Could there be a blog in that? More than likely, yes."
Write your observations down to use for later. Documentation is key. "I keep a notebook with me at all times, and write down every thought that might come in handy later," Branson writes. "I also note any intriguing links on my iPad. If you don’t write it down, it could soon be gone forever. Lots of the scribbles end up as blogs at some time or another."
Keep it personal. Inauthenticity is easy to sniff out. "If it wasn’t really me writing on LinkedIn or posting my virgin.com blogs, people would spot it a mile off. There are more – how shall I put this – 'corporate' blogs out there, which is all well and good. But if you’re going to do something, it is worth doing it right…I love sharing what is happening in my world, the latest happenings at Virgin, and my views on the wider universe," he writes. "What better way to do it than in real time, online?"
Delegate. "As ever, I wholeheartedly encourage the art of delegation," Branson writes, although delegating isn't the same thing as finding a ghost-writer. Instead, "it means finding people to help you write more efficiently and effectively. I work with Virgin’s head of content and team on ideas for blogs every day, firing ideas back and forth and collaborating on the best angle to take. Then, once a theme is decided upon (like this one, for instance!), we work it up into a blog."
Interact with your audience. Writing is just the beginning. "The whole point is to start a debate and provoke a conversation. While I sometimes struggle for time, I try to read as many replies as possible, and reply to at least a few people every day," Branson writes, noting that he often comes across comments saying 'Richard Branson doesn’t really read this.'
His reaction? "The temptation to jump in and wave a big digital hello is sometimes too much."
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