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Category Archives: Social Media

URGENT: Why You Should Avoid Using ALL-CAPS And Other Melodramatic Fonts

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When I first opened the email with the above thread, I immediately thought of the Holiday Season. It reminded me of jokes that my mom might forward to me. The bold and colored text was quite effective.  Each person used a different color in the thread; as I read the email, I could almost hear 3 separate voices, singing “Oh Tannenbaum…”

We all know the basic rules of online netiquette, the first rule being variations of, Please don’t use ALL CAPS because it is the online equivalent of yelling.  We all had to learn this at some point.  A lot of people, myself included, started emailing in caps because we were AutoCAD or Excel users.  Or maybe it was because our lazy little pinky fingers had not yet learned to use the “Shift” buttons automatically after a period and space.  But in every case, someone who had slightly more internet experience would tell us, Dude, don’t do that, don’t use all caps, and we would reply BUT I HATE HAVING TO… and then we would learn.  Apple figured this out years ago, labeling some keys on their keyboards in lower case.

So why have these capital letters made such a comeback in Corporate America?  I believe there are two reasons, the first being the shear volume of emails sent every day.  In order to stick out from the crowd, many people feel the need to use capitol letters and melodramatic words like “urgent, help, needs attention”; I bet you have heard them all.  The second reason is the rise of social media, where people often argue using all caps.

The people who send those “URGENT” emails are often the same people who usually don’t read or answer your emails

I will let you marinate on that one for a second. It’s okay, take your time, no caps here…

When you are finished, let’s move off of the subject of the subject line, and move onto the body of the emails.  The word body is key here.  The body of the email should be treated the same way as the human body.  It should be healthy and mindful of its emotions.  I myself am guilty of using some very strong words in my emails, but they are just that: just words.

Seeing Red Again

I recently received an email from a coworker that was over 50% red bold text.  I felt my heart begin to race when I opened the email.  I was panicking before I read the first word.  Red is the color of stop signs, brake lights, market losses, sunburn, and worst of all, blood.  There are a some positive instances of red, of course. A red sports car can be appealing, or a woman in a red dress might stick out from the crowd at a nightclub. But most of the time, red means something is wrong.  Using red, bold fonts makes you sound like Satan.

After I read his email dipped in blood, I wrote my coworker and said that I felt the need to go bury it in my backyard.  I begged him to consider using another color in the future.  Green may not be as loud as red, but think about how many positive things are associated with the color green: go lights, money, charged batteries, and most importantly, Mother Nature.

Ask yourself, Would I rather receive an email from Mother Nature, or one from Satan?

You will never find me using excessive formatting, all capitol letters, or red text in my emails.  I DO sometimes use all caps to emphasize one word in a sentence, although I prefer italics or underlining. I use a lot of punctuation. I use bold when I want a  word sentence to stick out.  As you can see, this is much more effective than writing an entire paragraph or email using bold font.  You are basically wasting ink and/or causing stress.

What I am asking everyone to do, is to simply avoid adding unnecessary melodrama.  Please, stop using URGENT or other words in all capital letters, there is no need for it.  The only reason you should ever uses the word urgent is if you need something ordered today.

Most importantly, start treating the body of your emails like a body.  Keep it healthy and clean.  Use underline to emphasize, italics to quote others, bold to call out part numbers, highlight to reference something further down in the thread. If you must use a colored font in an email or document, please try your best to use any other color than red.

MAYBE TRY BROWN NEXT TIME. – P.K.

 

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LinkedIn Is The New … Minesweeper?

In 2011, I wrote a blog post titled, Why Skype Is The New Solitaire, where I predicted that Skype would become commonplace in business once it was integrated with Microsoft Office and installed on every Windows computer.  Of course, it didn’t take a a crystal ball to see the future of the video conferencing, and I don’t take any credit for my divination skills. I do take credit for the witty Solitaire analogy, and this here witty-titled post is meant to be a “sequel” to that first post…

Last month (June 2016), Microsoft announced plans to acquire LinkedIn. This adds leverage to their current CRM software, by adding a large social network of adults, who are mostly professional.  I say mostly, because lately there has a been a surge of worthless content on Linkedin.  I hope this deal makes LinkedIn more about business, and less BS.

I used to praise LinkedIn for relevant content, and its gotten me more leads than any other online source. There is no definitive date of when The Old LinkedIn became what LinkedIn is today, but I personally felt the shift when the occasional annoying recruiters in my Inbox were suddenly outnumbered by periodic junk mail messages:

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But these messages don’t annoy me nearly as much as what I call the math problem posts, here is an example:

mathhwlinked

2732 Likes and 14506 comments on a math problem that a grade school student should be able to solve?   And for the record, the answer is -13. Following the order of operations, you first reduce the multiplier and multiplicand (3×6) and put their product (18) back in the equation 3-18+2 = -13.  But why is this on LinkedIn? Why?  Because you Like it, that’s why.

Let’s push the math problems off to the side for now, and look at how the LinkedIn / Microsoft deal could actually help your business to grow, work more efficiently, and sell more effectively, by adding functionality to your desktop, tablet, phone, or Surface Hub:

  • Minesweeper_XPThe Contact List Convergence–  You meet someone at a trade show, and send a LI request to be connected.  They accept, and are automatically added to your Outlook email contact list.  You send them an Outlook Meeting Request.
  • Office LinkedIn 365 – It will be easier to share presentations and edit documents within LI groups.  You will see live chats and webinars emerge within LinkedIn Groups.  Maybe there will be local LinkedIn Groups within your Exchange Server?
  • Skype Within LinkedIn – You see a job you like on LinkedIn and apply for it. A day later, you are asked to meet on Linkedin for your first interview, using Skype For Business.

These are just 3 examples of changes you may see as a result of the the Linkedin-Microsoft merger, but you need to be careful. Just like “Mr. Softy” got half of the world hooked on Solitaire and Minesweeper, many of you will soon be using LinkedIn and Skype on a daily basis. Don’t believe me?  Just try it, the first one’s free. Here’s a free download of Windows 10, and free Microsoft Word for your Ipad…. Look, a Skype button, let’s test it!  Wait, why is this sending an email to all of my Linkedin Contacts?  And what’s with all these math problems?

My Do’s And Don’ts Of LinkedIn Profile Photos

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My Do’s And Don’ts Of LinkedIn Profile Photos

If you are between the ages of 25 and 55, then chances are, you probably already have a LinkedIn Profile.  And chances are, you probably don’t think about it very often, unless you are job hunting (in which case, you may be updating your profile almost daily.)

Most people only update their work experience or skills when they revise their LinkedIn profile. More savvy B2B folks find ways to optimize their LinkedIn profile so that they rank higher in the LinkedIn Search results.  Others may ask for recommendations from former coworkers or clients.  But how much time and thought did they put into their LinkedIn profile photo?  My guess is most people have not thought about their photo since the day they uploaded it. How many times have you changed your photo?

LinkedIn has published guidelines for profile photos, but unless you are posting your company logo, your tagline, your favorite animal, or landscape, they will pretty much accept any photo as long as you are in it. If you break their easy-to-meet guidelines three times, they supposedly will not let you upload any more profile photos. However, I have seen some profiles of people who somehow got around this rule, and have a pet as their profile photo.  My guess is they uploaded the photo before the rules were created or enforced, and now they are essentially ‘grandfathered in’ (or would it be, ‘grandfather-Linked-In’?)

Remember that the FIRST thing someone sees when you show up in a LinkedIn search, or “People You May Know”, is your photo, and those first impressions count!  Yet for most people, the profile photo is the LAST thing they worry about!  So what kind of photo makes a good LinkedIn profile photo?  What makes for a bad one?

Here is my short list of Do’s and Don’ts of LinkedIn profile photos:

1. DON’T use your wedding photo, or a photo someone took of you while you were attending someone else’s wedding.  These are far too common and very easy to spot. Will you be wearing that tuxedo or strapless dress to your next interview?  Dapper!

Black and white professional headshot

My professional headshot in black and white

2. DO yourself a favor and get a professional headshot taken at least once every 5 years. No one likes meeting an older version of you after they saw the younger you online. Request a full color headshot and a black and white version of the same photo.  Beyond your LinkedIn profile, its good to have “your best face” on hand for other reasons like company newsletters, bylined articles, online dating sites, obituaries … “you never know when you are going to go” is my motto.  Might as well be ready for it.

3. DON’T use a photo that is obviously a cropped photo of you and someone else.  This is just as common as the wedding photos and drives me berserk!  Just because you were wearing a tie that day does not mean you look professional.  You look sweaty! And if you are going to crop out other people, you should also crop out that drink in your hand.

Example of cropped photo taken at a wedding

Cropped photo taken at a wedding

4. DO make sure to smile in your LinkedIn profile photo. Just like dating sites, people on LinkedIn want to work with happy people. Save your Resting Bitch Face for after you get the gig.

#LMRBFO = Laughing My Resting Bitch Face Off

#LMRBFO = Laughing My Resting Bitch Face Off

5. DON’T keep your profile photo blank.  If you don’t have a profile photo yet, then you probably should not have a public profile yet either.  No one wants to work with a ghost.  Plus, without a photo, how can the people you have previously worked with know that its actually you, and not someone pretending to be you?

6. DO include other items in your profile photo that are relevant to your career.  For example, if you are an audio engineer who typically works at concerts, then a photo of you standing next to a huge audio mixing console certainly adds value to your online resume.  It says “yes, I have done this before, so I am qualified”.  Or if you are a bowling coach, its okay to have bowling ball in hand.

7. DON’T wear sunglasses. Hey, I understand where you are coming from: I think I look better in sunglasses too, but its not appropriate on a professional networking site. Your eyes are the window to your soul, and by wearing sunglasses, you just closed the shades. The one exception to this would be if the person was visually impaired, or if they wear prescription glasses that transition to sunglasses in sunlight.  Also, if you use a photo taken outdoors, make sure your face is clearly visible.  Oftentimes, outdoor photos have too much contrast between the sunlight and shadows.

Sunglasses and Dreadlocks

Would you hire this shady dude?  I sure wouldn’t.

8. DO wear something that resembles what you would typically wear to your job on a day to day basis.  No wedding dresses, no hats, no tie-dyed shirts, no sports attire.  I don’t care how much you love your team; there are people on LinkedIn who do not.  Why jeopardize your career just because you are still bitter that the Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina in 1997, and left Connecticut without any major sports team?  Not cool, Whalers!

9. DON’T have a coworker, friend, or family member take a photo of you using their mobile phone camera, standing in front of a wall or a tree.  Unless you are the photogenic type, these types of photos will never be as good as a professional headshot.  AND NO SELFIES. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Photo taken on Easter

Photo taken by my friend on Easter

10. DO make yourself stand out, but be careful: this can be a double-edged sword.  You may be wearing a t-shirt that says something funny in your photo, but others may not get the joke.  Better to use a photo from that time you went sky diving, or snorkeling.  These types of “adventure photos” will create instant conversation when you connect with someone new on LinkedIn. Photos of you receiving an award also show you are valuable.

Hopefully by now, you ‘get the picture’.  By putting a little extra time, effort, and yes, a little money into your LinkedIn profile, you will be sure to be putting your best business face forward, and your online resume will be much more professional. First impressions are everything, and online, that impression is limited to your profile photos.

Additional advice on LinkedIn:

https://pkaudiovisual.com/2014/02/05/social-media-networking/

If we are not yet connected on LinkedIn, here is my profile:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/pkaudiovisual/