EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Many of the inventions of the modern world are either the best things or the worst things to ever happen to us.

It is a true fact (as opposed to a false fact) that we are now able to do a lot more communicating with each other than ever before. Personally, I stand amazed that I send out our newsletter to over 38,000 members every night. Had Al Gore not invented the Internet, our newsletter and perhaps The FENG itself would simply not be possible.

While we all accept the power of these new communication tools, I fear that many of us have not come to terms with the burden they place on us. Please know I am not talking about the burden of always being connected to the outside world.

What I am talking about is the need to master these various tools and project a professional image.

I believe it to be a true fact that adding “Sent by iPhone” does not excuse you from incomplete sentence structure, typos, or the lack of an outgoing signature. (Yes, the beatings on outgoing signatures will continue until morale improves.) At one time, being all thumbs was a bad thing. Now it appears to be a talent that enables you to type, at least in some fashion, on a very small keyboard. While I’m proud of you, you might want to keep in mind that just about everyone gets more email than they can easily deal with on a daily basis.

This means that your communications need to be concise and well written. Mark Twain once said: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” This is indeed a truth about communications in our modern world, except that the short ones I get these days often don’t make sense and don’t look very professional.

We now live in a world where we have the capability to over communicate. I have to tell you that the first time I got a personal computer and no longer had to deal with secretaries, it was totally liberating. I have always preferred to have control over my outgoing communications.

Those of you who are new to doing all of your own communications need to “get with the program,” and make your message look like they came from the world’s best Administrative Assistant. I’ll give you a few places to start.

“From:” This part of your message appears in each and every message you send out. Sometimes there is no name, other times there is a name in all lowercase. Other times it is the spouse of the person writing to me. There is honestly a place where you can change this on EVERY emailing system. Make it either your given name or your Nick Name and Last Name.

Before we deal with the stuff in the middle, have I mentioned outgoing signatures? If you go to the bottom of the email I send out, you will see my outgoing signature at the end of the newsletter boilerplate. It has an address so you will easily know what time zone I am in. My phone numbers line up because I put the label for each one on the right side. And, my email address is there because when you do have a properly created “From:,” the email address isn’t visible, sometimes even when you hit reply. I uppercase and lowercase my email address to aid in readability. And, I have an email address that is my name. If you don’t have such a “corporate” email address, get a new one.

All the words that make up the middle of your message need to be well written and contain no typos. Given that the word processing capabilities of most email systems aren’t robust, you should generally speaking create all your boilerplate in Word and do a copy/paste into your email. I don’t know about you, but it has always been my belief that I am responsible for everything that comes off my desk. My thinking is that all of you are college graduates, and even if you weren’t, you have been working in an office environment for over 20 years in most cases and should know how to write complete sentences.

The short hand symbols of the Internet have no place in what is essentially business communication.

The Internet, email, iPhone and personal computers are all power tools of the first order. They make it possible for you to appear to be very smart OR very stupid AND all in a nanosecond.

There is no going back. These many wonderful inventions are here to stay. Learn to master them.

Often times everything I know about you is contained in the message you just sent me. Make sure it projects the professional image that is the real you.

Regards, Matt

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