Among the top challenges in business writing is how to be comfortable writing about yourself. Especially good – no, excellent – no, superlative! things about yourself for that promotional piece, certain portions of that resume (many, these days, are fill-out-the-form), or that requesting-an-interview letter, on paper, or online. Here’s the secret: Don’t focus on yourself. You are only incidental to focusing on the reader, and what you can do to help that reader.
So, as the saying goes, “get over yourself.” And as a client told me years ago, “If I’m not for me, who is? And if not now, when?” But the focus is on your reader!
To begin with, as in most of your business writing, start by focusing on your reader. What is it you are good, excellent, or superlative at that could be of real value to that reader? What are the things that trouble your reader that you can help resolve? Identify the problem. Start there, rather than starting with yourself.
Perhaps a little research would help. The prospective client or employer probably has a website that will provide some of the missing pieces about him, her, or the organization. For more depth, take a look at some of the major publications in your reader’s industry. Find out about some of the issues in the industry he or she may face. Learn the vocabulary.
Now you’ll want to decide what the piece you are writing is to achieve. What is the next step? To get an appointment? To set a time for a phone call? What is the action you want your reader to take next?
Back to the piece you are writing: Next, suggest/provide a practical, workable answer. Show your reader how you and your reader might work together to solve the problem, to get the results he or she needs, keeping in mind that today’s business reading must be short, but concise. Select your content carefully, and express it briefly, positively
Your close must tell the reader, very clearly and concisely, what he or she needs to do next. It will be “a call to action” in the clearest terms. It will provide a brief, compelling, reader-oriented reason, time frame, and easy-to-get-started action step for going forward.
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