You are currently browsing posts tagged with business writing

Being Social

§ July 5th, 2011 § Filed under communication, marketing, small business, training, writing § Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , § 11 Comments

There’s always a price to be paid for doing, being, and having more, and it has little to do with working harder or knowing the “right” people. In as few words as possible, “get out more.”  – TUT… A Note from the Universe (Mike Dooley)

A few events lately have convinced me that it is time for some comments on social media. This is not designed to be a list of rules. One of the things I love about social media is that it is still in flux. We’re learning “acceptable” behavior as we go along. I’ve come up with a few suggestions, though, and would welcome your comments.

To the extent that you would keep your personal life and work life separate, keep your personal and work social media separate. I have two Facebook pages – one for business and one that is personal. My personal page is primarily a space for connecting with friends, although many of my friends are also business acquaintances. I only become “friends” with people I have actually met (with a few famous exceptions), and all are people whom I would invite to my home.

I started with two Twitter accounts, but am starting to meld those into one.  I accept everyone at LinkedIn, because I view that as a business network only.

I don’t think there should be any rules here, except to think about what your purpose is for the particular social media channel before you start accepting friends, following, and linking. Let that purpose guide you. Just stay civil online and be sure to proofread. Remember who has access when posting your location or any updates.  If your friends have photos of you in compromising positions, well, that’s another whole issue.

Please remember that just because you are good at connecting on social media does not mean that you are sociable. Sometimes the skills that make a person truly excellent at social media are not the skills that make him or her personable or well-mannered. Both venues require a bit of “walking in the other person’s shoes,” but the in-person interaction can be more difficult for people who are introverted. If you feel more comfortable online, you may need to work on your face-to-face manners. Make sure that you smile, make eye contact, act courteously, and follow through on commitments. When you are with someone in person, stop texting and updating, and be present.

Finally, the more social media you participate in, the more you need to connect in real life to balance yourself out. Recently, I joined a new friend for lunch. We initially met through a #BMPR event and started following each other on Twitter. We know each other more based on what we Tweet than an in-person connection. As I approached her, I realized that I was visualizing her name with an @ in front of it.

That’s when you know you have spent too much time online.

What guidelines would you like for social media? Join the conversation – post your comments here.

Decide What You Want

§ April 3rd, 2011 § Filed under communication, marketing, small business, training, writing § Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , § No Comments

The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want. – Ben Stein

If you find that you are not receiving responses to your email messages, I may have discovered one of the problems.

I recently met a man who is in charge of volunteers at a local non-profit. I had been planning to volunteer with this organization for the last few months, so this meeting presented the perfect opportunity to offer my training services. I handed him my business card and wrote on the back what I wanted to provide.

Two days later, I received an email from the volunteer director. He said he was glad to have met me and appreciated my interest in the organization. He provided some details about the volunteer opportunities with this non-profit and finished his email by saying that he looked forward to discussing my involvement.

It was obviously a canned response, and although it would have been nice to have received something that responded to my particular offering of providing training, the template aspect did not bother me. What bothered me was that there was no call-to-action. There was no “next step” for me to take. He could have said, “please contact me at your earliest convenience” or “please fill in the volunteer form on our website” or “I will call you next week to set up an appointment.” Instead I was left feeling like we would have to run into each other on the street to move this relationship forward. I wonder how many volunteers are lost because of this missing request.

I shouldn’t give this guy too hard a time. He is not alone. We all send out emails all the time without thinking about what we want to accomplish.

If you want to create email messages that get a response, the most important step you can take is to decide what you want the outcome to be when the recipient reads the email. If you don’t provide your readers with the next step, the email will sit in their in-boxes, unanswered, largely because there was no question to answer.

Look back over some of the emails you have sent. Were you clear in your purpose? Did you ask for the sale? Did you move the process forward? How could you have ended the message that would have made it easy for the recipient to take action?

If you want to learn additional ways to create messages that deliver results, come to this month’s Lunchbox Workshop.

Texting and Writing

§ March 1st, 2011 § Filed under communication, small business, training, writing § Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , § No Comments

“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” – Joseph Priestley

In response to my request for communication pet peeves, one of my readers emailed, “I dislike the fact that kids, with texting, are using “shortcut” language.  This definitely will not help their spelling & written skills.”

Texting! Just like my reader, I worry about the writing skills of our youth. I teach writing classes on the college level, and I see omitted punctuation, lack of capitalization, and words that I have to read aloud to decipher the meaning.

Is texting ruining the writing skills of an entire generation? To be honest, probably. But the problem may not the obvious one.

English teachers throughout history have had to help students understand the difference between formal and informal language. (Growing up in Texas, we all had to learn that “ya’ll” was not an acceptable pronoun when writing a school paper, but then neither was any second person pronoun.) Texting adds a layer to that concern, but with some training, students can move between the formal and informal writing easily. Research shows that students, especially those with some college, tend to understand the difference in requirements when writing formally.  If you are interested in how teens perceive their writing skills, the Pew Research Center has done a fascinating study on teen writing and technology.

The bigger problem may be that texting requires quick, to-the-point, no-nuanced writing.  Conversely, good writing requires supporting detail, more explanation, and additional depth.  One of the concerns pointed out in the Pew study is that most writing assignments in high school are short – a few paragraphs at the most. The combination of texting, Tweeting, and sharing short messages on Facebook, plus a lack of opportunity to learn how to write lengthier and more in-depth prose may be hurting our students’ writing skills much more than the abbreviations and shortcuts.

I have my pet peeves when it comes to spelling and grammar, but I can usually decipher those mistakes easily. The harder task is sorting out writing that is illogical and unsupported, and I seem to find a higher frequency of poorly thought-out writing these days whether in my classes or in the marketing materials of businesses. We need to teach students to think critically and write fully thought-out papers. Businesses need to learn to communicate from the reader’s viewpoint, answering questions before they are asked. I love the idea of communicating quickly through text messages or 140 character Tweets, but to be decent writers, we have to be able to provide detailed, coherent information.

As we embrace our new forms of communication, there will probably come a time when “your” will become “ur.” I can’t find a good argument against the shortening of some words, leaving out letters that serve no meaning except to confuse non-native speakers and to point obscurely to the mongrel history of our language. The only argument that I can fall back on is that we have rules for the way we have always written, and I know that is a miserable excuse. So I won’t be surprised, and I won’t fight the inevitable. I won’t completely give in just yet, either. So, instead of “thx 4 rdg,” I’ll say, “Thanks for reading all of my letters, even the unnecessary ones.”

« Older Entries