Thursday, July 31, 2014

To Whom It May Concern--Ugh!

Which would you rather receive? A form letter or a personalized message? Of
course you'd choose a personalized message! We all like to feel special. The same is true for LinkedIn invitations. Avoid the single-line request to connect that LinkedIn provides. Wayne Breitbarth, author of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success: Kick-start Your Business, Brand, and Job Search, writes, "Customizing the connection request will get you a much higher response rate."

How to Change the Standard Invitation
Not sure how to get to the customized invitation? Here's how:
  1. Type the person's name in the Search for people, jobs, companies, and more textbox.
  2. Press Enter.
  3. Select the person's name from the list.
  4. Click the Connect button.
  5. Select the option of "How do you know...?" (You may have to include the person's e-mail address, depending which option you choose.)
  6. Compose your personalized message.
  7. Click Send Invitation button.
What to Write in Your Invitation to Connect
Give the person a frame of reference.  Let the person know who you are. Did you just meet him/her? Where? If it's been a while since you met, remind the person how you met. If you know this person will recognize your name, ask how he/she is or ask about something that's going on in his/her life. If you've never met, tell the person why you would like to connect. Do you share a LinkedIn group or a professional association? Do you follow his/her blog or subscribe to his/her newsletter?

Invite the person to connect. Be concise, conversational, and professional. The invitation doesn't have to be long to be effective. In fact, according to LinkedIn, you're limited to the number of characters: 2,000 characters if you have the person's e-mail address or 300 characters if you don't.

Give a closing thought. Would you like to meet the person for coffee or lunch? If not, your complimentary closing (Best wishes, Cordially, Regards, etc.) may be enough. Again, be conversational; avoid using standard corporate language such as Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sophia Amoruso offers a LinkedIn invitation in her book, #GIRLBOSS: "I came across your profile and would love to grab a coffee with you sometime. Your experience is really interesting." To the point, conversational, and flattering!

Before clicking the Send Invitation button, proofread your message! LinkedIn doesn't have a SpellCheck button, so be sure to re-read it carefully!

Judy Beaver, The Office Pro
Founder of National Proofreading Day

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tweets About Typos and Proofreading

What words come to mind if a presenter has a typo in his/her presentation, if a CEO has a typo in his/her e-mail, or if a company’s brochure has a misspelling? Sloppy? Unprofessional? Others?

Corporate image and first impressions do matter.

Some of my favorite tweets include
@JohnJohnsonson (No, that isn’t a typo!)
“I’ve driven drunk and stolen over $10,000 worth of entertainment but nothing comes close to the shame of sending an email with a typo in it.” 

“What’s the big deal about proofreading? It gives you the edge over the competition, that’s what!”

Do you have a favorite tweet about typos or proofreading? Please share them!

Judy Beaver, The Office Pro
Founder of National Proofreading Day

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Corporate Grammar Police?

Sue Shellenbarger wrote an article, “This Embarrasses You and I*: Grammar Gaffes Invade the Office in an Age of Informal Email,Texting and Twitter.” I posted this link on the National Proofreading Day LinkedIn Group page last week. Check out the comments. Shellenbarger mentioned a survey that shows about 45 percent of “employers said they were increasing employee-training programs to improve employees’ grammar and other skills, according to the Society for Human Resource Management and AARP.” What do you think? Are employers overreacting, or do they have a valid point?

I googled “writing errors that make you look unprofessional,” and 1 million results displayed. Evidently, people are writing about this topic. In the article mentioned above, Jack Appleman, a corporate writing instructor, was quoted, “People get passionate about grammar.” I sure do! Do you?

Please tell me what errors you think make a person look unprofessional.

Judy Beaver, The Office Pro
Founder of National Proofreading Day

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks

Did your mom make you sit down to write thank-you notes when you were young? Yes? Well, good for her! Thank her for teaching you good manners. But how many of us continue to send thank-you messages?

Writing them is easier than you might think. Here’s an acronym to help you write your thank-you letters: GUESS.

Genuine. Show your genuine feelings when thanking someone.

Unique. Use conversational language, not overused business phrases. Imagine a person reading several thank-you-for-the-interview letters that all say, thank you for your time and consideration. How original does that sound? Be unique; stand out from the crowd.

Error-free. Proofread your note. (Of course!) Be sure to prove your attention to detail, especially in a thank-you-for-the-interview letter. It might be your last chance to make a good impression.

Specific. State in detail what you’re thanking the person for. Thank you for the gift or thank you for the interview is too vague. Be more specific. My cousin wrote a thank-you letter for a Christmas centerpiece I had sent; he described the arrangement perfectly. I had ordered the flowers online, so I was grateful to know he received what I ordered.

Short. Keep the message brief. The note doesn’t have to be a major undertaking.

Thank someone for the interview, thank an employee for completing the project ahead of schedule, thank a client for his/her order, or thank a LinkedIn contact for an introduction. We have so many opportunities to acknowledge someone. People like to be appreciated, especially when it’s unexpected.

In the spirit of this message, thank you for being a part of my blog audience. I truly appreciate your support of National Proofreading Day and your dedication to improve your business writing!

Happy Thanksgiving,

Judy Beaver, The Office Pro
Founder of National Proofreading Day--just 100 days away!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Your Favorite Thank-You Note

“The joy I get from winning a major championship doesn’t even compare to the feeling I get when a kid writes a letter saying: ‘Thank you so much. You have changed my life.’” ~Tiger Woods 

Reading a thank-you note is a wonderful feeling. Have you recently received a thank-you note? From whom? When’s the last time you sent someone a thank-you note? 

I’ve added 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life by John Kralik to my reading list. Becky Brillon, Program Director of the Community Career Center, recommended it. 

Scott Gerber, principal and CEO of the Gerber Group, was featured on Learning From the Pros on “Your Business,” a TV show on Sunday mornings. He offered four guidelines for entrepreneurial success. His last tip was “say thank you.” Ten years ago Scott received a handwritten thank-you letter from his server two days after going to a club. He was impressed. After that, Scott and his staff started sending thank-you notes to customers and their staff. 

Next week I’ll offer guidelines for writing business thank-you notes. 

Some of my favorite thank-yous were written and illustrated by the 5th graders at Pleasant Hill Elementary School where I volunteer. Those notes are better than a pay check! One student wrote he thought I was going to be a mean teacher because I taught college. Another student drew a picture of a beaver on the front of the card. 

What’s the nicest thank-you note you’ve received? Who sent it? A client? A vendor? An applicant? An employee? What made it special?

Judy Beaver, The Office Pro 
Founder of National Proofreading Day 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Send Thank-You Notes Via E-mail or Snail Mail?

Do you send a thank-you note after an interview? According to Therese Droste, “The thank-you letter after an interview is a necessary tool for any job-hunting strategy."

Sending a thank-you-for-the-interview note demonstrates your soft skills; you can reinforce your communication skills, attitude, and professionalism in your follow-up note. People hire people they like.

So, let’s focus on giving thanks this month. Thanksgiving is defined as “an act of giving thanks.” Seems appropriate for November, right? 

If you’re hiring someone, does receiving a thank-you note have an influence on your selection? Do you think the notes are necessary? 

If you’re the applicant and you’ve decided to send a thank-you note, do you think it’s better to send it electronically or through the U.S. mail? Please share your ideas on this topic. 

Judy Beaver, The Office Pro
Founder of National Proofreading Day

Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Nobody's Perfect," So Do You Need to Proofread?

Grammar Girl (AKA Mignon Fogarty) wrote a blog post about proofreading; she commented,  “…I feel like a fraud for covering this topic, because I make as many errors as everyone else…” I know how you feel, Grammar Girl! There’s tremendous pressure for the founder of National Proofreading Day to be accurate.

Grammar Girl continued, “…it’s nearly impossible for someone to accurately proofread [his/her] own writing and be consistently successful... The real key to avoiding typos is to have someone else proofread your copy,…” It’s embarrassing when someone finds an error in your writing; consequently, having that someone be the person who proofreads your copy is ideal!

Having an error is unprofessional and can be costly to you and your business. But, are there errors you’re willing to forgive? Do you think it’s acceptable if someone makes an occasional typo such as you vs. your or from vs. form? How do you feel when someone repeatedly makes the same mistake such as than vs. then or their vs. there? Do you feel like Kyle Wiens (author of “I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.” See last week’s post.)? Please share your thoughts.

Judy Beaver, The Office Pro
Founder of National Proofreading Day