tcuk 2012, bryan lade, how to sell yourself as a technical author

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TCUK 2012, Bryan Lade, How to sell yourself as a Technical Author

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  • 1. How to sell yourself as aTechnical Author Bryan ladeTCUK Conference Oct 2012

2. Topics A bit about me The authoring world (UK) Author types & traits CVs and applications Networking In the workplace 3. A bit about me I am NOT a writer! Started career as an Engineer Previously been a: Product Manager, ProjectManager, Technical Manager, eCommerce Dev,Marketing Manager, Business Dev Mgr,Operations Director (now @ 3di InformationSolutions Ltd) Managed project to re-write the RS 20k pagecatalogue (2005) Have managed 100+ Technical Communicationprojects 4. Managing Technical Communicationprojects Every project unique Every project has its own specification, typically a mix of Consultancy Authors Information Designers Project Management Quality Software / tools Processes Timescales Ive worked with many authors on many projects! 5. The authoring world (UK) Companies that recognise technical authoringCompanies that dont recognise technical authoring 6. The authoring world (UK) Small and relatively unknown discipline in the UK Only two Degree courses: SH and Portsmouth The majority of business professionals have neverheard of Technical Authoring UK culture is that stuff gets written by others;Project Managers, Product Managers, etc Dont assume people recognise or understandyour discipline! 7. Generic Technical Author traits I haveseen more than once! Poor personal communicators (email!) NO ONE LOVES ME, NO ONE VALUES ME! I know best Some cant actually write Blinkered to the bigger (business) picture Weirdest dress sense (a telling sign?!) Practical, not creative Useless at marketing 8. Author Types Permanent, Contract, Freelance Good, bad, indifferent! Sole authors, team authors Need to be told, need to tell Techy, processy, reporty, marketingy (andthose that think they can do it all!) Fell into it, pursued it 9. Permanent, Contract, Freelance Permanent: Safe & long term Commitments Constrained by location Contract: Usually willing to travel Good authors work a lot Bad authors work little Freelance: Multiple projects on go, Project Management skills, flexible, consultative offer solutionsYou are one of these by nature, though can change over time 10. Technical Authoring the basicsMake sure you really understand what you(should!) do its your foundation, your motto You represent the user experience You bridge the gap from product developmentand design to the user You are not the Subject Matter Expert, but youget the concepts of a product or service You articulate what good looks and feels like You make complicated things easy to use 11. CVs & applications Your CV showcases you as an author! Your CV will rarely be read No typos! No bad grammar! No waffle! (clear concise communication!) Does your CV reflect how and what you write? Upload your CV regularly old ones will not be found Think of your CV as a database that will be searched needs to bekeyword rich Documentation / information types Industries Technologies Tools Software Processes Location 12. CVs & applicationsYour turn see if you can determine what yourkeywords for your CV will be?Mine? assuming I stay in this profession:Director, General Manager, Operations Manager,Interim Manager, Consultant, Documentation,Technical Authoring, Technical Writing, TechnicalDocumentation, Degree, Content Management,Technical publications, Information Design, UserSupport Information, Online Help, eCommerce(expand), Catalogue production (expand) 13. CVs & applications contd Recipients will be looking to gauge if you are acontractor or permy by nature Avoid: Old fashioned feeling, too long, too short,typos, poor grammar, etc. GET IT CHECKED! Samples & support information - make sure theyare good I work under NDA, dont have samples utter rubbish! Introducing yourself: please, please, please, makeapplication covering emails relevant (please doone!) If you are going to build a web site, please do agood one or get it done by a professional 14. Going to build a web site?Make sure you get the basics right: Pagerank? SEO? Blogging Use social media to link and raise awareness Structure & submitting for search (spidering) Keywords? (competition) How will you use it? Push or Pull - do you expectpeople to find it? A good web site can be invaluable for contractorsand freelancers 15. Networking Dont leave networking until you need it LinkedIn (& Twitter?) invaluable do it know it Grow your network regularly Many people headhunted Groups = intelligence Your profile needs to reflect your keywords InMail? ISTC, local area groups, Conference! Do communicate your availability regularly: If you dont ask you wont get Telephone Email Social media 16. Networking - LinkedIn Top keywords in the sub header Make connections Summary must be keyword rich Get recommendations Make recommendations Complete your profile 17. In the workplaceTwo golden rules you must be aware of: Most colleagues will not give two hoots abouttechnical documentation Most colleagues will therefore see you as anunnecessary costSelling the value of what you do is not easy.and its all about costand cost! 18. In the workplace contdBefore, at interview and throughout: Gauge expectations: Do they really care / who cares? If they dont care make a point of speaking to them. Often. Do they know what good looks like? Articulate it competitor analysis? You cant sell something without benefits (tangible) Business change will alter the above watch forit! 19. In the workplace contd Communicate! they dont care/understand! Do you really help them to? (poor comms?) Who do you need to communicate with? Frequency and how? Email updates Team meets, get invited to others, go present Wiki, web Samples (noticeboard?) Document specifications get more input Person to personYour turn what do you do now and what could you do? 20. In the workplace contdMeasure (and communicate)! Quantitative or qualitative do something Customer support Speak to customers Web stats Usability testing Translation benefits Legal requirementsCost benefit ideally, but customer satisfaction if not. Yourmeasures should be aligned with agreed business objectivesYour turn what do you measure and what could you measure? 21. In the workplace contd Its a hard sell: Your colleagues and peers typically wont care unless you make it relevant and worth caring about But if you measure & communicate, you can change thisFor more details please refer to Rachel Pottsexcellent article in the summerCommunicator, Measuring success 22. In summary Dont assume that anyone knows anythingabout Technical Authoring or what you do Take time to get your CV & support informationperfect and make those applications relevant Network now Find your value, find your supporters andcommunicate your value and successes 23. Any questions?Thank you and enjoy the conferenceFollow 3di Information Solutions on Twitter,LinkedIn and Facebookwww.3di-info.com