What an eventful month June was, both from a personal and professional perspective as well as what went on in the outside world… and no, I am definitely not going to talk about the World Cup with all its shocks, scandals, shoulder biting and the inevitable, all-pervasive and even unnecessary media coverage! That said, though, I was amazed that even people normally without the slightest interest in football were talking about it and even sharing memes of the latest “bad guy” sports personality to hit the news … enough said.
I read recently in one blog the story of one college graduate who decided to give up her fashion blog, basically because she was on the verge of entering into the big wide real world and found it was time to leave her youth behind her! OK, why not… and then as ever the ensuing comments were just as instructive with one social media specialist explaining how he used blog once or twice a week (I’m panting already) but had decided to reduce the tempo to once a month, basically because he realized that he’d nothing special to say so often. That reassured me because along with this pearl of information came a pearl of wisdom: Write for personal fulfillment, to please yourself. It also reassured me because I understood the blogger as also saying “Better to say nothing than to invent the news or regurgitate someone else’s ideas”
I suppose if you’re writing for yourself that’s sound advice but if you’re writing a company blog or an ongoing theme blog like my favourite football and whatever theme blog, once a month may be a bit too spaced out, in time and perhaps motivation, especially if you’re hyper conscious about your social media status and worried that people will forget about your enterprise if you’re not continually updating your wall, page and whatever… but it does say a lot about the writer’s ethic.
A lot of the blogs recommended by my preferred professional social network in June were basically either HR orientated (i.e. what to do, what not to say, five ways of doing this or three things you shouldn’t say during job interviews and so on) or about the imminent or ongoing demise of Twitter or Facebook, which made me wonder if LinkedIn doesn’t operate the same way as Google, the more you search for one particular topic, the more they have a tendency to decide for you what you should be reading!
That said it’s incredible. Even into the 2000s you would have had to go the local library or book store and search a while before finding anything concerning recruitment counseling. Today you just “oogle it” (Capitalized “G” intentionally omitted) or go to LinkedIn and find it. A resulting phenomenon of all this is that for every theory and “Influencer” you also have the counter theory and counter “Influencer” (Protagonists and Antagonists?) debating at distance and by intermediary posts, serving as virtual weather vanes and barometers with one judge and jury: the reader.
The devil is in the detail.
One of the blog posts I read in June that made the biggest impression was from one HR specialist, yes I know there are thousands and thousands out there and I’m darned if I can find the post again! Anyway, the blogger (I guess it’s OK to say it was a lady) quite categorically stated that she can “Trash” a candidature simply on the strength of the candidate’s LinkedIn summary alone!
Wow! That reminds me of that famous “M&M” clause the rock band Van Halen, at the time with David Lee Roth, wrote into their contracts. The clause stated namely that concert organizers should always put bowls of M&Ms in the band’s dressing rooms, along with the usual other requirements rock stars may have. Normally there was never ever a problem until they came to one venue, the names escapes me. The band promptly checked the bowls of M&Ms, picked up their things and left! On leaving the venue the distraught organizers pleaded to know what was wrong. The band responded “You didn’t read the contract through!”, the organizers replied that they had to which Van Halen responded “No you didn’t otherwise you would have seen that it says “… put bowls of M&Ms into the band’s dressing rooms… but that the bowls shouldn’t contain any brown M&Ms!””
Van Halen aficionados will forgive me for massacring the story but its legend and too good an example to pass up on to show just how important it is to pay attention to detail. Read, read and reread especially when you are trying to sell the most valuable product in your portfolio, yourself!
Over the past few years I’ve done quite a bit of writing, enough to consider myself a creative writer. I’ve even written and auto-published 2 travelogue books to know that the devil is in the detail and no matter how often I reviewed the damn books I still wasn’t happy with the end result. I have also done my share of reviewing and editing to know how a small slip of a typo can radically change the sense and orientation of a document, especially a legal or contractual document. Yep! I’ve often spotted and corrected a misplaced comma that could have radically changed the commitment and responsibility of an entity and to their detriment. OK, so you may think writing a summary in LinkedIn doesn’t have the same impact, but, and here I agree with the lady blogger, you’re wrong. To use a Marketing Communications term its “Above the fold” material and if you still don’t see what I mean, fold the copy of the “Daily Mail”, “Dauphiné Libéré”, “Bild Zeitung” newspaper you read this morning. What’s the first you see after the newspaper title? It’s your summary so get it right. The style used will reflect your personality and intellect. If you want it artistic or technical that’s fine and up to you, just make sure its error free and if you’re not sure ask around or look it up, if only on internet. There are thousands of text correcter apps, websites, forums and books available so there really is no excuse otherwise the HR specialist’s approach I mentioned above becomes totally understandable.
Conclusion. Create or adopt a style then hallmark it as your own, put a stamp on it so that it stands out in the multitude. A good example of a particularly characteristic style is the football blog post I mentioned above. The blogger, Robbo Robson, adopts an apparently populist style, street talk and all, but don’t be taken in. Either the blogger does indeed write extremely well or some serious editing is done afterwards… or both… the fact of the matter is that both style and grammar are spot on and the blogger enjoys a relative success. An example to follow, but in your own style and using your own words, plagiarism is perhaps the most important of the 7 deadly sins of blogging.
Whats in a title.
Perhaps it’s a result of Twittering, sorry, Tweeting so much but there’s a little game I like to play when writing a blog. I invent a title that sort of sums up the blog in less than 144 characters, by that I mean encapsulating the sense of the blog in a few words. Well normally that’s what everybody does, right?, pause… D’oh, forehead slap, reprise… and I do too, but not this time. This time the title totally sums up a month where everything seemed to be clear sailing and then an iceberg appeared out of nowhere causing a major recalculation of my route and a change of orientation. This situation was a super occasion to test another theory I had read about in LinkedIn, which I will qualify as the “Bicycle factor”, you fall over, you get up, but immediately, take stock and get back on track. This is also the time when you thank your favourite deity that you had a plan B on the back burner and a network that counts.