Selling Yourself Through Your Writing

So much for regular blogging; I’ve been working in fits and starts on the latest WIP and checking up on other bloggers / websites.  Time to reread my own posts on discipline!

This past weekend I was out of town, so I thought I’d adapt a PowerPoint presentation I worked up for a class for you.

Today I’d like to share some points about business communication.  Not telephone, but writing.  Since so much business is conducted over the Internet these days, it behooves you to polish your communication to a high gloss in order to appear your professional best.

Your writing is often the first impression you give.  Think you don’t write at work?

Well, you may produce:

  • Emails
  • Letters and memos
  • Proposals, quotes and other business documents

Business opportunities can be lost due to sloppy communication.  If your colleagues cannot understand you, then neither will your customers or clients.

STRIVE FOR THE THREE C’S:

  • CLEAR
  • CONCISE
  • CONTACT

Let’s tackle email first.  I’d like to show you using some examples from http://business-writing.proof-reading.com/?p=2.

A business email is a FORMAL communication.  Your colleagues are fellow professionals, and you should strive to show them your best effort.

Example:

If you got this email, what would you think?

hi carol just need to check see if the jones file that sam sent us all is in par at jims specs or if it needs more info from u or me or that one other dept, if so call me thanks mike

Um, no.

Compare the previous email to this one.

Carol,

Could you please check to see if the Jones file meets the specs that Jim outlined earlier? If not, let me know ASAP. We may need to provide him with more info.

Thanks,
Mike

Much better!  Can you see why?  When you send emails to a colleague or a client, the subject line should reflect what the email is about.   Otherwise, the person will not know if they should bother with your email or what it refers to.

From:  mikec@globalbusiness.biz

To:  Carol_Collins@telesalestoronto.net

Subject:  Jones file specs

Carol,

Could you please check to see if the Jones file meets the specs that Jim outlined earlier? If not, let me know ASAP. We may need to provide him with more info.

Thanks,
Mike

Good job, Mike.  But can you see anything missing?

Let’s try that again:

From:  mikec@globalbusiness.biz

To:  Carol_Collins@telesalestoronto.net

Subject:  Jones file specs

Carol,

Could you please check to see if the Jones file meets the specs that Jim outlined earlier? If not, let me know ASAP. We may need to provide him with more info.

Thanks,

Mike

Mike Jansen

Global Business

123 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10000

Phone: 212-555-xxxx

Fax: 212-555-xxxx

Cell: 212-555-xxxx

Oops, Mike forgot his contact information.  Glad he put it back in, so Carol can call him if she needs to.

Some points to remember about email:

  • Business emails are for BUSINESS.  Some companies  don’t mind personal emails; some do.   Don’t forward chain, prayer or solicitation emails.  If you must, check them out on snopes.com first to make sure they are legit.
  • Jokes are not always humorous to everyone.
  • Your company can and WILL look at your emails, so keep it clean!

Intercompany memos need to follow the same rules as email.

STRIVE FOR THE THREE T’S:

  • TIMELY
  • TOPICAL
  • TO THE POINT

Your memo broadcasts information the audience needs to know.  Therefore, it should be TIMELY.  Make sure your information is up-to-date.

Whether it is a boss-to-subordinate memo, detailing project instructions, or a general memo giving information about an issue, it should be TOPICAL.  Keep to the subject.

No one will read a dense, wordy memo.  Keep it short and TO THE POINT.  It will be easier to read and will better get your message across.

No matter what your written communication, you should proofread it. A poorly-proofed business document makes the writer look sloppy and uncaring about his / her professional appearance at best.  At worst, it can cause potential business to turn away.

TIPS

  • Use Spellcheck.

WARNING! Do not stop here! Spellcheck will NOT find all errors!

  • Read your work over several times.  Look for punctuation and spelling errors (mechanical).  Read again for context, phrasing and clarity.
  • Print out your work.  Reading on a computer screen will tire your eyes, and you may not see errors.
  • Ask someone else to read it over to spot errors you have missed.  Be prepared for the person to point out those errors, and remember, you asked for help. So don’t get mad if you get called on one.

THE THREE C’S

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Contact

THE THREE T’S

  • Timely
  • Topical
  • To the point

PROOFREADING

  • Spellcheck
  • Check spelling and punctuation
  • Print out the work
  • Ask someone to read it

You can download a PowerPoint presentation of this post on the Read Me page if you would like to use it at work or in the classroom.  Copyright applies and if you use it, please include the link back to this page.  Thank you.

Happy Writing!

2 thoughts on “Selling Yourself Through Your Writing

    • Thanks, Anne. :) Maybe someone will come across this and it will be useful to them. I really have no use for it so offering it for free does not hurt me.

      Companies really need to improve themselves both internally and with their clients/customers, because people can’t afford to spend money nowadays with a business that can’t communicate properly.

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