The better part of valor might be discretion. (Western society certainly has been debating that since the 17th century.) But I am here to tell you that the better part of quality content is an accuracy check. That’s because inaccuracies in your content can derail your customers’ trust in you, your content, and – by association – your business.Read more
Content Professions: Pandemic 2020 and Beyond
Some of us marched; some of us planted gardens, and some of us turned new perspectives into new endeavors. What did you do during the 2020 pandemic? (I hear my future grandchildren asking.)
On Mondays during the last quarter of 2020, I began publishing mini-essays on LinkedIn. Some were purposeful. Some were playful. Some bordered on the inspired (maybe).Read more
5 Intersects of Content Strategy and Project Management (Part 1)
The elements of the content strategist role both parallel and intersect those of the project manager’s role in 5 ways: end user/customer focus; work planning and prioritization; incremental testing and POCs; work and resource management; and measuring (for) success.Read more
8 REST API Documentation Tips for Hardware Writers
Technology services based on the representational state transfer (REST) architecture or a RESTful application programming interface (API) are becoming more important for hardware developers and content developers to understand. Wait, what? Why do I have to understand programming stuff? Read more
4 Rules for Business Email – Rule #4
OK. Serious case of writer’s block now for several months – not to mention side work as a contract technical writer.
Soooo, once again, here are my four rules for thoughtful and professional use of business email:
- Be Polite
- Be Professional
- Be Clear
- Follow up! (which is an outcome, really, of the first three)
As the rule list suggests, the fourth rule is really a result of conscientious use of the first three rules. Follow-up consists of – Ahem! <embarrassed throat-clearing> – not dropping the ball once it is in flight and also using good networking skills. Both stem from the well-known variation on the golden rule – you know, the one that says it’s best to try to walk a mile in someone else’s Converse high-tops before you pass judgment.
Dropped-ball avoidance (just developing the sports metaphor here, so please don’t judge!) is a simple guideline to implement. It means that if you started the email string to begin with, you are responsible for closing it out. Typically, you can do that with a summary/next steps email back to all respondents on the string. Summarize the ideas they shared, thank them for sharing, and indicate what you and/or your team will do with those ideas (your next steps).
You can even follow up on the follow-up and go back to the email string after several weeks to inform everyone what steps/ideas you and/or your team have implemented.
You can also take follow-up in a different direction and examine the responses in the email string as jumping-off points for networking opportunities. (And yes, even those of you who are securely employed need to take advantage of networking opportunities.) Was someone included on the email string whom you have never encountered? Was someone on the email string especially critical of your team or their effort? Or did someone on the email string seem to struggle with understanding the topic?
All of these situations represent opportunities for you to reach out informally to the responder and talk – over coffee, over lunch, over Skype, whatever. Get some face time with him/her. Most of the time, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much you have in common with that person, and you might even find opportunities in which the two of you can collaborate. In fact, you might just find your next big opportunity professionally through that conversation. Or maybe just your next pick-up ball game. Either way, you’ve pushed beyond the keyboard and made a real connection. Good for you!
For those of you in the U.S., please have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday!