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Argggggggh! March 24, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in Business Issues, Humor & Satire, networking, WAHM/WAHD Stuff, writing/editing/blogging.
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Okay. There. I’ve said it. And it felt good.

Wondering why the Charlie Brown-esque cry of distress and frustration?

It’s simple, really. I am amazed and frustrated by some of the mistakes that occur online. Seriously. It’s like a plague. I am online—a lot. (As if that isn’t obvious…I’ve got a blog or two or three.) My business is primarily online, my magazine is online. And of course, there are e-mail and social media and professional networking sites. The good thing about my little rant here, is that it allows me to plug two things, but not before I wax on about this recent musing that has been brewing in the corners of my mind for some time now.

Let’s start with e-mail. I won’t even deal with sp@m, except to say that the people who think that they can get around the issue by making the “from” name the same as the “to” name to avoid the filters need to be taken out and publicly flogged. But on a general note, is it too hard, when sending a group e-mail to everyone you know about the “latest whatever” to place all of our names in the bcc field? Don’t know what bcc stands for, here it is: blind carbon copy. It means that you are sending “a carbon copy” to everyone without disclosing all of the recipients. I don’t need (or want) your mom’s e-mail address, your old cube-mate’s e-mail address or the e-mail address of your former-significant-other-that-you’re-still-friends-with. Guess what? They don’t want or need mine either. So use the bcc field already.

Next up on the e-mail rant: is it too hard to actually put a subject in the subject line? This is especially important if you actually want your e-mail read. And if it’s a forwarded forward, change the subject line…otherwise it’s straight to the electronic recycle bin.

As for the body of the e-mail, is it so hard to put something meaningful in the body, even if you are only requesting information and that’s your subject line? Apparently as we adopted electronic communications, we lost all sense of communications etiquette. Following the rules of the printed word are still important, especially when those communications are professional in nature. I am amazed at how many requests for information I receive that look like this:

to: me@myisp.com
from: person@theirisp.com
re: request for information
body:

Seriously. That’s it. Did you hear the crickets?
Not good. And certainly not a way to network—well, it is a way to network, but it’s bordering on being toxic. (More on that later.)

And I just love the e-mails from people who seem to have nothing to do all day but “network.” I mean really, how many e-mails do you need to send in one day? One week? There is this thing called overkill, and that is certainly an example of it; and it makes me wonder…when are you getting any work done? (Again…toxic.) Limit the e-mails unless it is so ultrafantabulous (and think about that first before hitting “Send”) that you must tell us about it right this very second. Better yet, try a service like iContact and save all the great news that’s not immediately time-sensitive for a newsletter.

But enough about e-mail for a moment.

Let’s move on to social and professional networking media for a bit.

We all get invitations to connect. “Someone wants to network with you.” “Someone wants to be your friend.” “Someone wants to add you as a friend.” And so on. So you click the message only to find either the generic message or…wait for it…

…nothing at all.

Now, how on Earth do you expect me (or anyone else for that matter) to connect with you and accept your invitation if you don’t give a good reason to. Kind of like the body of the e-mail, it doesn’t take long to compose a few lines. For example:

  • “We’re in the same field, I do x,y, and z, and think our companies could work together.”
  • “I saw your profile and ….”
  • “Hey Erika, it’s _____, I think we went to college together, but I think I knew you under your maiden name. Were you in Dr. ____’s class?”

The possibilities are endless for making that invitation to connect work. (It doesn’t mean that it will, but it increases the odds that it might. And best of all—you haven’t irritated anyone.)

See? Not so hard…oh, and you just might get a response. Really. Again, not doing that and just using the “generic message” or worse, a blank one…toxic.

On to print…my beloved pet, since I’m a writer.

My husband and I received an invitation to a black-tie event the other day. It was addressed to my husband and guest. WTF? And Guest? First, there is no “and guest.” Second, you’re having an event that formal and you can’t take the time to find out if the invited have significant others or not and address the label as such? “And Guest” my ass. (Hey, it’s a rant.) It does not endear me to the hosts of the event or to the organization sponsoring it. I will be kind and not say which group is organizing it. But from a networking standpoint…you guessed it…toxic.

More on the printed word. Is it so hard to spell check and maybe even read the darned thing aloud, so that you can hear how it sounds? (Trust me, I do this. My poor husband is victim to my pre-edited prose.) And for Webster’s sake: “Importantly” is not a word. You can have more important and most important, but important is not a freaking adverb. And while I’m on the subject of non-adverbs, ordinal numbers cannot be turned into adverbs either, that means no “firstly” or “secondly.” (I don’t care if your favorite reporter at your local daily does it—the copy editor probably missed it in the hundreds of things that they have to read and approve before going to press…either that, or they really don’t like that reporter.) The only “ly” in a list, is “finally.” Which brings me to my rant’s destination—finally

Rant over. But keep reading.

Besides reading my rant and realizing the error of their ways from it, what can you and all of these poor souls do? There are two very apt things and both involve doing a little bit of reading.

First, learn all about Non-toxic Networking from networking guru Jennifer Gniadecki. Jennifer coined the phrase “Non-toxic Networking” and her new e-book: Non-toxic Networking: From Poisonous to Popular is now available. In a down-to-earth and friendly way, she discusses how to network effectively for both novice and seasoned networkers alike. From social media to e-mail to networking events, Gniadecki shows you how to maximize your networking power by showing you what to do and what not to do. It is a must read and a must have for anybody who is on MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, planning to attend a conference or other networking event or thinking of starting an e-mail or newsletter campaign (or for those who have one that’s not yielding the results they expected). Whether you’re a traditional business person or a WAHM/WAHD, Non-toxic Networking should be one of your references. (And Jennifer won’t yell at you, like I just did.)

Second, you can learn about what to put in those e-mails and other forms of correspondence in my new book due later this year The Right Words for Any Occasion (Publications International). It is a handy reference about writing for non-writers, and in it readers will learn about how to write a letter, the anatomy of letters (and other correspondence) and other traditional and electronic social and professional communication. From writing invitations and thank you notes to writing social and business letters to the etiquette and protocol of writing elected officials, The Right Words for Any Occasion covers the types of letters that most will encounter or will need to write. It even covers letter writing for children and academic letters as well as for conducting business related to running your household. It too will be key in making your interactions with others non-toxic. (And I don’t yell at you in it either—I promise—my editors wouldn’t let me 😉 .) There will be more about The Right Words for Any Occasion as its release date draws nearer.

In the meantime, don’t delay. Get Non-toxic Networking: From Poisonous to Popular by Jennifer Gniadecki today! Click here to view more details and to get your very own copy!

Copyright © 2008 Erika-Marie S. Geiss

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Comments

1. Robert Michel - March 24, 2008

I just stopped by your blog and thought I would say hello. I like your site design. Looking forward to reading more down the road.

Robert Michel

2. Mary Lewis - March 25, 2008

Wow, you give very good rant, Erika. I agree with you, about everything here. I’ve told everyone I electronically communicate with that I DO NOT read forwards. They still send them. I still delete them.

My mantra regarding e-etiquette is as follows…Not everyone is a writer, not everyone loves words, repeat, as necessary.

3. emsgeiss - March 25, 2008

Thanks for the comment. 🙂 I *love* your mantra! 🙂 (I may have to borrow it.)


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