Friday, April 17, 2009

From shameful to shameless

There are some quirks that will probably never leave me when I leave the news business next week. I'll always prefer reading copy in a narrow, column format. And I'll probably always call what I read "copy." I'll always stop reading and find a pen whenever there is a grammar, spelling or punctuation error. I'll always "edit" my words before speaking and mentally correct grammar in every conversation. I'll always use the shortest word available; you will never hear me say "utilize." In fact, some words and phrases will always make me visibly shudder. I'll always want to know more than what's written in a news story, too, just because I know the information is out there. I'll always be grateful for learning how to ask the right question to get what I want.

Unfortunately, what I'll also hold on to is the notion that promoting an idea is somehow shameful. In college journalism classes, you learn that your job is to present the facts and leave the readers to draw their own conclusion. This is quite the stumbling block when you suddenly have to present your case to a prospective employer or client. How to get from shameful to shameless, and still respect myself, is a dilemma. Shameless is most often used to convey that someone is a conceited donkey rather than a person who just isn't ashamed of themselves or whatever idea she espouses. I do think of my resume as if it were a news story about my career - a just-the-facts accounting that should speak for itself. As an editor, my belief has always been that fewer words often make the biggest impact. So how do I promote myself without seeming conceited?

Recently, I read an article from a professional group on tactics for shameless self promotion at work. Most of the advice I'd heard before. One bit that I hadn't heard is right up my ally. It said to develop an elevator speech - two to three sentences that communicate who you are and what you can do. Bingo. To me this is like Sudoku but with words - challenging but fun. At least it's a starting point.

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