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Why YOU Need To Author a Book

                  By Colleen Walsh Fong   Whether or not you read much, whether or not you write much, you’ve got a book in you, and you don’t have to know the ins and outs of professional writing to set it free. No human being is just a number, one of hundreds or thousands of faceless people. We all have some drama in us. As the narrator of TV’s early classic, Naked City, said at the end of each show: “There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.”   You’ve got a story, too. And it’s different from every other person’s.   Your life and career experiences have gifted you with a unique perspective that can be instructive to many others. But you must tell your story to share your wealth. At this point you may wonder why you should bother to write a book to tell your story. Lots of good reasons exist to answer this question.   To Create a Tangible Product to Promote Your Business   Adding a book credential to your bio, or featuring a book on your website is a great promotional tool. LinkedIn profiles with book credentials draw more views and drive more clicks to home sites. Professionals who conduct webinars, seminars or training sessions, have face-to-face meetings, attend conferences, or speak to groups benefit from having physical books to reference and “pitch” from the platform.   My Amazon top-selling book Write To Grow: Build Your Business, Get More Clients, Make More Money has driven views to my site and clients to my business.   To Enhance Your Credentials   Writing and publishing a book on a topic related to your business and expertise is perhaps the best way to enhance your credentials. Access to a plethora of self-publishing platforms has made an easy thing of publishing a book. Still, an individual has to summon up discipline and devotion to make it happen. So most people are dazzled with book publication credentials.   To Make Money   I wrote Write To Grow to share knowledge I’d acquired about how to write articles and blog posts, books, and other materials to promote businesses. And I wanted a tangible product to promote my professional writing services. The book has brought new clients to my business, which has resulted in more income.   A side benefit I hadn’t given much thought to... read more

3 Things You May Be Saying Wrong

                    By Colleen Walsh Fong   Have you been busted for singing the wrong lyrics to songs? Even though I produce professional writing products every day I mess up sometimes when I’m singing, too. I could have been in Volkswagen’s commercial featuring people singing the wrong words to Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” I thought “burning out his fuse up here alone,” was “burning up with fear out here alone.”     For years a good friend of mine insisted Jimi Hendrix sang, “’scuse me while I kiss this guy,” not “’scuse me while I kiss the sky.” A more recent musical mix up is in Jay-Z’s, “Empire State of Mind.” The correct lyrics, “concrete jungle, where dreams are made of,” regularly gets twisted into, “concrete jungle, weird dream tomato.” Go figure.   Most of us occasionally repeat sayings that have been used incorrectly, or misstate those we’ve heard, too. But in business communications it’s important to demonstrate your attention to detail and accuracy so your message will resonate with others possessing those same professional attributes.   I’m surprised by how often I see expressions written incorrectly in professional communications. Taking the time to think through what’s being said, or using a dictionary to find the true meaning of a word, will usually result in getting the phrase right. How well do you think you do with commonly used phrases?   Blast Off To Correct Phrasing   Test your accuracy on three of the most oft misstated expressions by selecting the version you think is right.   1. “I couldn’t care less”/ “I could care less” 2. “Each one worse than the last” / “Each one worse than the next” 3. “Exact revenge” / “Extract revenge”   If you picked the first option each time you nailed it. Here’s why the first options are the right ones.   1. When you say that you could care less it means that you do care to some extent. So if you truly don’t care at all about something, the right way to let people know is to say that you couldn’t care less. 2.. When you say “each one worse than the next,” you’re implying that you know what hasn’t been shown yet. You probably don’t know what comes next every time you use this phrase. So, using “last” makes more sense most times because you know what has already occurred. 3. This... read more

5 Steps to Melt Your Writer’s Block

                  By Colleen Walsh Fong   Do you have a hard time getting down to the business of writing? Most people do.   Sometimes it’s hard to find a door into what we want to say. Other times we have so many things to say it’s hard to decide where to begin. And anxiety about whether or not we have the skills to do the job can keep us from even getting near the keyboard. Our projects freeze into blocks of ice.   Still, some of us must compose. Producing written products including short reports, planning documents, or white papers is at least a small part of the job for most professionals. Entrepreneurs and business owners often author books. They are effective tools for launching new enterprises. And they help those who aspire to thought leadership establish their expertise and separate themselves from their competition.   It’s hardest to write when your job performance rating doesn’t depend upon timely completion; when you have a really long deadline, such as an entire semester; or when you don’t have any deadline because your project is optional.   If your venture is in the deep freeze try doing these five things each day to transcend your writer’s block.   1. Schedule a time every working day to write and make it sacred. The best time to do this is first thing in the morning so you don’t immerse yourself in other work that can serve as an excuse to skip your writing that day.   2. Turn off all electronic devices for the duration of your writing time after handling your email, texts, and any other social media tasks. If you write electronically, as most of us do, close out of all your social media and mail apps and turn off your notifications.   3. Set a word count goal for each session. Make it achievable. Then put your hands on your keyboard.   4. Key out an outline of what you plan to write about during each session. You will probably have a master outline for larger projects like business plans, books, and white papers. Start your session outline with the item or items you plan to cover. Compose bullet points underneath each to guide your writing.   5. Write until you reach your word-count goal. Pour it out stream-of-consciousness style. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, tempo, or consistency. Those can all be fixed... read more

Professional Writing: Navigating the S Curve

                      By Colleen Walsh Fong   For someone whose surname ended in sh for much of my life, I’ve let myself be pushed around a lot when making that name plural, even in my professional writing.   My mother and teachers taught me to add an es to the end of Walsh when talking about more than one of us. But later, editors and others in the grammatical know told me to lose the “e” in the plural form of Walsh and simply add an apostrophe and an s. So I started referring to us as Walsh’s, which never felt right to me because that looks like a possessive. Even later still I was told to bag the apostrophe and just be the Walshs. That, too, felt funny even though the possessive angle was dropped. MS Word agreed with me and sternly underlined the word in red.   Now, a few years later, current grammarians say that I was right all along and we should be the Walshes when there is more than one of us. MS Word continues to underline that version of the plural, but since its resource has taken me on a few wrong turns I  prefer defaulting to other experts. The Chicago Manual of Style, The Associated Press Style Book, and Grammarly.com all concur with this spelling. So I’m standing my ground and sticking with it from now on.   Making plurals out of names ending in s, sh, ch, x, or z can feel tricky. Here are a few go-to rules from my research to help you navigate the s curve:   When either a first or last name ends in sh, ch, x, or z, make it plural by adding es to its end. Jones becomes Joneses. Walsh becomes Walshes. Savitch becomes Savitches. Fox becomes Foxes. Gutierrez becomes Gutierrezes.   Names that don’t end in s need nothing more than an s added to their ends. Inserting an apostrophe is incorrect unless you are trying to make the word possessive. Two people with my first name would be Colleens. Something I own would be Colleen’s. Something my friend Colleen and I jointly own would be Colleens’.   Do you feel unsure about how to pluralize a name ending in y? Again, just add an s. Two girls named Sally should be Sallys, not Sallies.   With these basics in hand, sally forth and multiply names... read more

Stand Out to Excel

                    By Colleen Walsh Fong   Are you professional camouflage or do you stand out from the crowd? Your answer describes how others will respond to your content for branding.   I definitely advise differentiating yourself and your content from your competitors. But the way you choose to do it will determine the type of customer who responds. So it’s important to identify your ideal client before you embark upon a marketing strategy. And your content for branding should be developed to appeal to that ideal.   Every day I receive several cries for attention in my email inbox. They all contain calls to action (CTAs) that are smart and useful things to insert into your marketing content. Some are laid back and others are aggressive. But most are middle-of-the-road pleas for me to read, click, call, or do some other thing. CTAs are good tools to help you get potential clients to places where they can see how you’re different from the crowd. And there are different styles of calls to action that should correspond to your ideal client and your differentiator.   Those styles remind me of my three dogs at morning coffee time. Lola moves toward me with a smile on her face, tail wagging, and hopping back and forth on her feet as if she’s dancing a jig. Lexi zooms in just as my hand is descending to stroke Lola’s head and steals the pat. Licorice stands behind the two, content to have her name spoken while waiting for her due. As the pack leader she’s confident it will come. And most days it does, unless I get distracted during my dog greeting duties.   The marketing communications I receive take the same approaches: Lola’s friendly “pick me,” Lexi’s aggressive “steal-everything,” and Licorice’s “don’t-forget-about-me-old-friend.” Their sheer volume causes me to delete most after scanning just the first few words to get a sniff of which dog each one represents.   I gravitate toward Lola’s “pick me” and Licorice’s “don’t forget about me” since attention hogs have always turned me off. Lexi may get the first pat, but she won’t get many more from me and they won’t be filled with affection. And even though I’m most attached to my mellow, sweet-tempered Licorice, I have to admit that Lola probably gets the best return for her effort, because she consistently makes one.   It’s the same in... read more

When It’s Good to Give Bad News

                  By Colleen Walsh Fong   In 1616 King James I of England allegedly first said, “No news is good news” in the parlance of his day. But the late monarch’s sentiment isn’t always true. Sometimes we want answers even when they aren’t the ones we hope to get. And we want them in a timely manner so our hopes aren’t kept indefinitely in suspense.   Each of us has a professional image. It tells other professionals whether to buy from us, hire us, collaborate with us, sell to us, or avoid us. Our written behavior is just as important as how we behave in person.   Your actions help paint your image. Once that image is formed it’s hard to change.   Courtesy is a key element of professional behavior. Prompt, polite responses to inquiries demonstrate professionalism by showing others that they matter to us. And that’s something we all like to know.   Lots of people make inquiries of us including current customers, prospective customers, those seeking our business, and those seeking employment with our businesses. The way we respond to queries from people in each of those categories influences our professional images. So it’s equally important to make prompt and professional responses to contacts made in each of those areas–even when the news you give disappoints the recipient.   I know from personal experience it’s no fun to tell a job candidate that the position was awarded to someone else. Or to tell a salesperson vying for your business that she didn’t get the deal. It’s tempting to avoid making those communications. But the sooner and more politely you do it the more professional you will be because you didn’t waste the other person’s time by leaving them waiting for an answer. And when you make those communications in a polite way the recipients are more likely to think and talk positively about you and your company in the future.   The salesperson you turn down today could become your client, or your employee, tomorrow when you are professional in your verbal or written communication with him.   Everyone with a smart phone holds the tools for immediate response in the palm of her hand. We can make instantaneous replies using emails, texts, voicemails, IM’s, and PM’s. But the anonymity of these mediums also makes it easy to ignore communiqués when we don’t feel like dealing with them. With less... read more

How Listening Leads to More Business

                  By Colleen Walsh Fong   Do you talk first and listen second?   Or talk more than you listen?   If so, you’re probably missing some important information and some good business opportunities.   Most of my professional writing articles deal with the written or verbal side of communication. That’s because most of us in business are concerned with supplying information to potential and current clients. In fact, many people in both their business and personal lives pay too little attention to the flip side of the communication coin.   I’m talking about listening. While most of us are busy focusing on what to say or write we neglect the receiving side of communication. But listening is at least as important as sending and may be more critical. This is because all of our carefully crafted messaging will fail if we haven’t first listened carefully to the marketplace and our clients to thoroughly understand their problems. Careful listening gives us the necessary information for devising the correct solutions to fulfill their needs.   The lyrics to Love and Marriage by songwriters, James Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn speak perfectly to sending and receiving:   Try, try, try to separate them. It’s an illusion. Try, try, try, and you will only come to this conclusion… You can’t have one without the other. Love And Marriage lyrics © IMAGEM U.S. LLC   You may recognize the Frank Sinatra hit as the theme song to Ed O’Neill’s 1980’s sitcom, Married With Children. But back before that show hit the airwaves psychologist, Gerard Egan, wrote the seminal book on counseling, The Skilled Helper. Much of his counseling system was based upon what he called active listening. It’s a technique that teaches us how to stop our own whirlpool of thoughts while in the communication process. That act let’s us listen carefully to what the other person is actually saying.   The average person listens only as far into a message as he needs to go to hear a little nugget that strikes a chord with him. Then he turns his ears off and starts processing his response, which is usually formed to win a debate, to amuse the other party, or to amaze listeners with his brilliance. And not surprisingly the response often misses the mark because the entire message sent to him wasn’t heard.   People are egocentric. We don’t listen well automatically. We’ve... read more

Be-Whiched

                    By Colleen Walsh Fong   It’s bad enough that “which” is a homonym so even the most prolific business content writers, and writers in general, have to pause to make sure they’ve used the correct version of it. But it also causes confusion in sentence construction. I’m often asked “when should I use which instead of that?”   And when that happens I have to stop and try to remember if there’s a catchy little rhyme my fifth grade teacher drilled into my head, like:   I before E except after C or when sounding like A as in neighbor or weigh.   Since I couldn’t remember a clever rule for the “that/which” dilemma, and I couldn’t find one anywhere else, I came up with this one:   When you can’t ditch what comes after which use that. Or more professionally stated:   When the intended meaning of the sentence changes if you remove the words that follow “which” you should use “that.” Here’s an example:   “Jack’s car, which has the best turn radius, is blue.”   This sentence is grammatically correct unless turn radius is the sentence’s point. In that case you should use “that” like this:   “The car that has the best turn radius is Jack’s.”   That’s because you can’t discard the information that follows “which” without losing your intended meaning.   If you want to add the information about Jack’s car being blue without changing the importance of the turn radius issue, use “which,” as in this example:   “Jack’s car, which is blue, has the best turn radius.”   In other words, use “which” if you can discard the clause it is in, but use “that” if you can’t.   Since you can discard “which is blue” and still communicate the desired information about the turn radius, it’s okay to use “which.” But if you use “which” to talk about the turn radius, you lose the key point when discarding the clause it is in. So you should use “that” there.   Whether you’re a business content writer, or just writing, be-which your text with my new rhyme for beguiling the “that/which” witch.  ... read more

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