A major challenge in designing and making potentially valuable nanostructures is to find suitable ways to effectively tune their properties and function. Recent work in our lab has demonstrated a powerful strategy to engineer the morphology and properties of metal chalcogenide 3-D nanostructured assemblies prepared by sol-gel methods. Here we show that by altering the shape of CdSe building blocks from dot to rod, the morphology of the gel can be altered from colloidal to polymeric. Notably, the polymeric (rod) aerogel has twice the surface area of the colloidal (dot) aerogel. Rheological studies of aerogel-PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane) composites indicate that the rod aerogel structure is stronger than the dot aerogel, and the reinforcement is due to the structure of the gel, not the particle geometry. Finally, in addition to dots and rods, the morphological consequences of CdSe branched and hyperbranched nanoparticles on resultant aerogels will also be discussed.