The WSJ had an interesting article on a phenomenon that has become a bit of a pet peeve for me. It’s about the new English that the internet has spawned and its apparent shortcomings for those in the more traditional business world. I know I may come off as sounding “old school” but I don’t mind because I am. This isn’t a new rant for me. When it come to business I firmly believe that “r” is just letter not a verb (are) and “8″ is number and not something you just did at a restaurant. It seems like corporate America agrees.
The story revolves around young job hunters and their apparent cluelessness about how the rest of the world writes when it is trying to get work done. While many of these folks have great credentials and get far enough through the process that there may be a job offer waiting only to have their resume tossed into the “circular file” because they follow up and actually use terms like “hiya” and “thanx” in the correspondence and then top it off with multiple exclamation points and emoticons. Yikes. Imagine them working with a client and writing “Thx 4 your biz. U r a gr8 client!!!!!!!” I can see why the job would slip through their fingers.
Many follow up immediately after an interview using a Blackberry and think that they are being efficient but actually come off as not being able to digest something and think about it. Getting something done to say you got it done is not going to impress anyone. It really is the thought that counts in many situations. Then there are the interviewees who become “friends” of interviewers on Facebook and the like. I can’t even fathom the lack of understanding that would possess someone to do that.
The Internet marketing application of this stuff is simple. It’s about knowing how the other person, your customer / prospect, hears things that should be most important. While it may be efficient and sometimes even clever to create internet shorthand on the fly that should be done behind the scenes only. You have to make sure that the person who receives any truncated messages actually will understand you. What just a few short years ago would have looked like someone fell asleep on their keyboard is now considered to be communication. Your modern way of interacting may even cause someone to dismiss you as being unprofessional because you don’t appear to have a grasp of the language. That stuff affects the bottom line.
Does this sound harsh? Well, I suppose it is. The truth often is. For you younger folks in the industry (which I know there are many) you will have to make adjustments to those who have the ability to pay you and not think that they should come around to how you do things. That’s a basic sales and marketing precept; empathize with your client so you can meet their needs. You can “play the game” and be successful or can be like Chris Brubaker, a junior at Iowa State University who apparently has it all figured out and feels that “textspeak” will be accepted as normal business practice. He says “text messages are much more short and to the point. General communication is becoming more electronic.” First of all, what does that mean? My next question for Chris is, “R U nuts?”