I had mentioned that I was going to be on a panel at a GABA event on “Communications Today: Blogs, Email Etiquette and More” that was held tonight at SAP on Hillview Avenue in Palo Alto. It addressed a broad theme with four speakers (Jennifer Lankheim was a no show) from fairly different backgrounds in front of an intimate audience of about 35. E. J. Dieterle, the CEO of YES Partners was the moderator and he asked a couple of “show of hands” background questions of the audience. Most folks were consultants who found perhaps 50 new e-mails a day in their inbox. I handed out a hard copy of our new article Blogs & Wikis for Better Collaboration.
It was funny that on a night where we focused on electronic communication each of the other three panelists also put a handout on the attendees chairs, the “paperless consultant” proved as mythical as the “paperless office” seems as distant (or as close) as it did in 1975 when Business Week was writing about “The Office of the Future” (remember that? they are still at it almost 30 year later, writing in 2004 about “Sneak Peeks at Tomorrow’s Office“).
Because of the broad nature of the topic we never really got much of a conversation going. I stuck to my position that the best way for most people–especially consultants and very small firms–to think of a blog is just a better way to manage your website. Write about things that are of interest or use to your customers and prospects, include frequently asked questions since most folks will check your website before they call you, and pick a pace that you can continue on a sustained basis.
Pierre Khawand, CEO of People-OnTheGo made the point that blogs are useful in larger firms and enterprises for internal communication [update Oct-10 he blogs in more detail on his "Less is More Blog."] But the problem that many folks seemed to be wrestling with was e-mail overload. One of the best articles on this remains Ole Eichorn’s “The Tyranny of E-mail” from 2003, which covers everything the panel could suggest (“don’t answer your e-mail as frequently, send shorter e-mails, pick up the phone if you find tempers rising or discussions moving in circles”) and more. I shared some of my challenges in E-mail overload back in November (and no, it hasn’t gotten any better and I haven’t gotten any smarter, except that it’s now clear I have to move off of Eudora since support has been completely discontinued…suggestions welcome, clues gratefully accepted).
It was an enjoyable evening. My thanks for Jennifer Vessels of Next Step, for introducing me to E. J. Dieterle who then allowed me to take part, and to Caroline Raynaud, the President of GABA, for orchestrating an enjoyable evening.
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