Resolve To Not Be A Digital Nuisance In 2008

New Year ScroogeImproving communication is key to our career success, right? Here are 08 things for ’08 to help us communicate better on the digital playground.

  1. Don’t solely message people through non-e-mail methods. Send me a “direct message” through Twitter and I have to go into Twitter to reply. Send me communication only through Facebook or LI and I usually have to go through those systems to reply. Make it hard for me and it’s likely I won’t get to it, since I deal with at least two hundred e-mails a day.
  2. Don’t send me big file attachments. I read a story last night about a media specialist who sent a very large file attachment to a Wall Street Journal editor. The problem was, he was in a hotel, on a very tight deadline, and it hung up his e-mail send/receive process. It’s always a good idea to ASK FIRST, something like “can I send you a 2 MB file?” (what is prompting this post this morning? Someone sent me a 7mb file in an e-mail. Twice.)
  3. Don’t invite me to anymore social networks. Seriously – I’ve been social-networked-out for years. Right now I’m only concerned about LinkedIn and Facebook (and Twitter, and a couple of niche/industry social networks), and I only do what I need to. I’m not an early adopter, I don’t like to explore or poke around, and I don’t care to the be “the first one.” I don’t have time or mental energy for that.
  4. When you invite me to LinkedIn, don’t send me three paragraphs about the value of LinkedIn. For crying out loud – I wrote the book on LinkedIn! Can’t you at least read my profile and make the invitation personal? Even a canned, template invitation is better than preaching to me about what I already know about (just read the top of my profile to know that I already get the value of LinkedIn).
  5. Don’t put me in the cc field and then address me in the e-mail. This is a small pet peeve of mine, but here’s how it works. If you want to address someone in the body of your e-mail, their address goes in the “To” field. If you want to refer to me, but you don’t talk to me, then it goes in the “CC” field.
  6. Refrain, when possible, from “me too” e-mails. People are busy. I bet the average person I deal with gets one hundred e-mails a day. The last thing we need is irrelevant communication coming our way. When someone sends something to an e-mail list, usually there is no need to reply with a bunch of attaboys (like “I agree”). Of course there are exceptions to this (like, to give congratulations or something like that), but think about the value of the message you are sending … if there is no value, don’t send!
  7. Don’t be a jerk. I have a few personal examples from 2007 when I crossed the line and was a jerk. I wasn’t even trying to be funny or sarcastic, I was just a plain jerk, no excuses. The problem is that too many people are making very quick decisions, and impressions are lasting. One of my resolutions is still to try and be nice, even when it’s hard, or when I’ve been wronged, or when something isn’t fair. That mean ol’ goofball today might be in a position to be very helpful tomorrow. Besides, maybe they aren’t a mean ol’ goofball, maybe something got lost in the digital translation (perhaps their shortness was simply an attempt to reply to you immediately, and they were pressed for time and mental energy), and they really do care about helping you, or adding value to your business.
  8. Don’t be a genius. Ok, I wrote something about this a few months ago and was slammed for not holding humanity to a higher intellectual standard. Sorry to those that feel like we’re already dumb enough. But there are two things that will make your e-mail sit in my inbox longer than anything else (as I wonder when I’ll get around to it): First, if it is too long, I’m going to “get to it later.” Second, if it has lots of big words that make me go to, I’m going to “get to it later.” I’m sorry but if you want to have a communication, don’t get all PhD on me. Not that I don’t like intellectual stimulation, but I’m busy. Just like everyone else.

(No, I didn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed, these things have just been building up over the last few months)

Happy New Year!

21 thoughts on “Resolve To Not Be A Digital Nuisance In 2008”

  1. This is great advice. We are all overwhelmed with communications and people need to respect others. “Reply to All” is the worst offense. In most cases when you are cc’d on a group email a reply to the sender is all that is needed. Not everyone on the cc list cares about your reply.

  2. >I wrote the book on LinkedIn!

    Ahhh a slip of the ego. “THE book”? Or perhaps “a book”? It was a great book on LinkedIn. But, “the” is a claim I’d steer around. Unless you don’t mind nagging emails from the “humility police”. I otoh KNOW I AM the big fat old turkey hisself. And, no one ever disputes that claim.

    Happy new year, and to a more successful, but humble next one.

  3. John, I call it “the book.” There is one other that I know of, from Steve Tylock. I’ve read it, and it’s a good resource. But I am an ego-maniac, and so I call my book “the book.” I haven’t called it THE book yet 😉

    Here’s a link to Steve’s book:

  4. Great post Jason. I really like #5, #6, and #7. Don’t agree with #1 entirely. Everyone should become “aware” of how others prefer to communicate and be sensitive to that channel.

    Now how about a follow-up post of do’s!


  5. @reinkefj He wrote more than I ever have on LinkedIn. Until there’s an international consortium on what is or is not qualified as authority, I say “he wrote the book on LinkedIn”.

    I do note the good blog etiquette that he both allowed your comment, replied politely, included links to what would be his competition, and even allowed your trackback. Doesn’t seem to ego-centric to me…. or at least willing to allow other conversations.

  6. Yup, JA is very polite with respect to allowing cranky old turkeys to razz him. Hey, you have to have a certain amount of ego to take the bruises of everyday life. After layoffs, and all the other bad things that happen to good people every lifetime, you have to have the self-confidence to say “I wrote THE book” on something. Even if it’s one’s own autobiography, everyone has a story to tell.

  7. All good points to live by. CC misuse and reply all are my email pet peeves as well.

    One point that I’d add is not to forward the latest chain mail, joke or inspirational message. Another point is to be brief, since people are busy!

    Like most things people don’t think enough before they send a message. There certainly have been times I’ve regretted sending a message that in hindsight did not have value to the recipient (even recently). It’s a very important thing for a social networker to consider the value of their message to the recipient and not just pass on the garbage that somebody sent to you!

    I’ve recently adopted a new habit before I hit the send button. I reread the message and shorten things as much as possible. A minor example is I get rid of “I think”, “I feel”, “I believe” and such. Of course I do otherwise I wouldn’t be stating such. However, if I can delete a whole sentence I’ve struck gold 🙂 Thus my new best new friend is the backspace key!

  8. I pontificated “everyone has a story to tell”. And the very next day, the UNIVERSE delivers some reenforcement!

    *** begin quote ***

    DI: When you were writing the book at Apple, how did you save your files?

    IJ: I saved the files each day to my Yahoo account, email form. I still have most of them saved. The Apple store did bring some tragic moments though while writing the book…I did have a moment when the Internet froze on the iMac I was working on while writing. Which meant I couldn’t save my document to my email and I thought about saving it to a folder on the desktop or making one somewhere discreet so no one would take it. After I pouted to a store employee about my catastrophe he told me I could buy a CD at the store and then download it, but my funds were limited at the time. So instead I called a film director I knew who lived in SoHo and even with a broken leg, in his crutches he brought me a CD and I was able to burn my document on the disk and save one of the best parts of my book. I believe once you write something, you can never fully write it again the same, so I wasn’t going to leave the store without it. And yes I did cry, stomp my foot, and swear a few times over it. It was extremely dramatic at the time because I also realized at that moment how much the store meant to me, what I was doing, and that even if the store didn’t know it, the store was my means to survival sort of, and it was like I saw my desperation on the computer screen waiting for the Internet to be turned on.

    *** end quote ***

    If you don’t believe that your story is worth telling then who will think it so. (Other than me of course!)

    I wish that all my relatives took the time to memorialize their wisdom. Even if they were dead wrong (i.e., “the world is flat”), it serves as a jumping off point from whence you came. As they say “past is prologue” and “those, who don’t learn from history, are doomed to repeat it”.

    We have in the internet and endless archive of all human thought that gets recorded. True, much of it (i.e., inet porn) is imho a waste of electrons. But who knows what a genetic researcher can glean from all those photos? I’m not about to throw anything away. Especially when its so cheap to keep. (Consult the Inet Archieve guy Brewster Kahle on how it’s possible to archive all human knowledge.) Maybe they will need to know what humans looked like in the Year 2000 some time in the Year 4000 after all the genetic engineering makes humans all look alike. Like the other Alba! 🙂

    My point was: everyone’s story is invaluable to understanding the human experience.

    the big fat old turkey hisself

  9. 3 words that everyone can understand: get over yourself, Jason.

    No need to post this to your blog; post it to your bathroom mirror instead.

  10. Long winded genius partner, thanks for your comment. Really. It helps clarify why I have a blog, and why I post things.

    I’m not really a ranter, if you look at the last 18+ months of my blog you’ll rarely see a post like this.

    I’m also not a cheerios blogger… I put personal and non-relevent information on my personal blog. So why did I post this on my JibberJobber blog? I certainly didn’t do it to show you how cool or egocentric I am.

    I figure there are people out there that would be interested in learning more about digital etiquette. Whether you agree with my 8 points or not, it’s up to you. It’s food for thought. My coauthor on I’m on Facebook — Now What??? disagreed with plenty, and that’s fine, he has some excellent points.

    But there are people who really don’t have a clue, think that sending a 7mb file twice (so I need to wait for a 14mb download???) is okay. They like to communicate with me in the cc field, which shows that you skipped out on e-mail 101. They think that their right to being a jerk online coincides with their entitlement to relationships is fine (you can stomp on people only so much), and their long, wordy e-mails to me should get attention right now…

    I’m not saying I’m right, and that this is how everyone thinks/operates… but it’s how I operate right now.

    What about those that “violate” these things? I’ll live with it. In fact, right after I posted this I sent an e-mail to two people… one was in the cc, and I talked to him in the e-mail, violating my own. I’m not perfect.

    But thanks for the advice to get over myself, all the same.

  11. This morning on ABC’s Good Morning America, there was an article that suggested “Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace that were once exclusively for social purposes are now increasingly being used for recruitment — and that will blossom even more this year. Employers are using these sites to promote their job openings, their corporate cultures and even their benefits all in an effort to encourage you to apply.”

    First of all, I realize that Linked in wasn’t used exclusively for social purposes. Let’s move beyond the obvious . . .

    Many corporations and recruiters use these sites, but are the sites accomplishing anything for those seeking jobs? In other words, corporations spend loads of money elsewhere promoting their brand to potential customers and employees, are these sites just another venue? Are they effective? And, what does the individual job-seeker get from all this?

  12. Carter, great thoughts. After reading your blog I think you could answer this better than I could… but I’ll give it a try in a different blog post, so it doesn’t get buried in these comments.

  13. Hey Jason, please do NOT get over yourself (I reference one of your blog commentators above – I respectfully submit that he may not realize what you’re all about).

    I believe you’re a breath of fresh air, you deliver needed real-world advice, you CARE about your readers and their success, and your posts are always tinged with humor, are self-effacing, and are enjoyable to read.

    In a year of following your blog (one of the few I read without fail), I don’t recall seeing an egomaniac — just a guy with the guts to admit he was downsized; couldn’t get hired for a while; and then had the smarts and spirit to create a business that just happens to be VERY customer-focused, service-oriented, and useful; blog every day; and write a book. (While raising a family and being a generous colleague to those in the blogosphere and the careers industry).

    Happy New Year to a rising star!

    Deb Dib, the CEO Coach
    “Unabashedly passionate about helping visionary, gutsy, fun leaders with a conscience build great careers, mold great companies, and even change the world a bit!”

  14. Forgot to mention that I think your post is terrific — especially the “keeping it short” advice. I see that more and more often in this “Blackberry-oriented” mobile device world. Small screens and tight schedules require short messages — but short messages require more care in composition to get key information across quickly, so actually take longer to write and revise (as one of your commentators mentioned).

    We’re seeing this in the resume world with one- and two-page resumes becoming the norm again (down from the 3+ pages exec standard of the past 10-15 years) with supplemental information now being included in addenda pages rather than the main resume document. It’s a trend to watch for anyone who is using a resume for job search.

    Deb Dib, the CEO Coach
    “Unabashedly passionate about helping visionary, gutsy, fun leaders with a conscience build great careers, mold great companies, and even change the world a bit!”

  15. Hello,
    Sometimes you have to just say it like it is. Valuable information with a radically direct tone.

    Just one more piece of wisdom to add. Awareness prior to pressing the send button is real important. Due diligence might avert a disasterously embarrassing e-mail disruption for an unintended victim. Case in point….I was the recipient.

    Recently I had spoken with for a story sent an e-mail to me – that was meant for her supervisor. She was upset that she was overlooked as the spokesperson to speak on a topic. Her partner was the better interview. Needless to say she was not a happy camper as her ego had been knocked.

    Disgruntled, she e-mailed her partner but sent it to me instead of him. I responded with a simple, “Perhaps this was meant for someone else.” I was compassionate, but she lost all credibility in that one shot.

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