People who are good at their high-tech career, like all of you, know
that sooner or later your clients come to think of you as the font
of all (or most) high-tech knowledge. They bring you their most intractable
problems and pepper you with countless questions. Thankfully, you usually
have the answers to their questions -- or you know exactly where to
look. In today’s world, though, it is just as important that
you share the information you have gathered before they ask for it.
In the spirit of this week’s theme, below are a few ways to “share
the wealth” while helping both you and your clients.
You have probably heard of the Internet files called Frequently Asked
Questions or FAQs. These files were originally developed to reduce
the amount of time spent answering beginner-level questions on Usenet
newsgroups. While they don’t answer all the questions, a FAQ
can help people to help themselves instead of waiting for someone to
respond to their questions. To help build your high-tech career, I
would recommend that you develop your own FAQs to begin sharing your
wealth of information with your clients.
Developing your own FAQs can help you develop a better relationship
with your clients and, if you put the information on the Internet,
perhaps help you to develop new clients. FAQs work for you even when
you are busy working on other projects. They can provide step-by-step
instructions for certain procedures when your time is better spent
solving the most difficult problems. Finally, if your FAQs answer a
question for a stranger, you might just be able to turn them into a
FAQs become a collection point for all the good information you find
on a daily basis. Most of this information never gets put to use because
you don’t have a place to share it. This might include interesting
web sites, manufacturers tech notes about known bugs, interesting articles
or whatever else you think your clients might like to know.
Starting a FAQ is as simple as opening up your word processor and beginning
to type, but collecting the information is only one part of the equation.
You also need to share the information in order for it to be useful.
One of the simplest ways to share is to send the information as an
email to all your clients. This is similar to typing up a simple newsletter.
While this will work, you will find some clients that don’t like
to receive it and, once the information is sent, there is nowhere to
store it for future reference or Internet searching. To really get
the most use of this information, I recommend a simple web site.
Most of you already have some small piece of web real estate available
to you. This might be associated with your AOL or Earthlink account
or a free spot on Geocities.com. Wherever this space exists, you
can take your simple file of information, turn it into an HTML
upload it. This will keep the information available until you decide
to remove it while also making it available for searching.
If you want to develop a more fully-featured spot for your FAQ, you
can use Blogger.com to develop your very own weblog (or blog). You
can check mine out at http://myword.blog.us to see one example of
how it might be used. Blogger has a free service that makes it
to create and maintain a weblog even if you are traveling around
the country. Your blog can focus on whatever you wish. Mine encompasses
many aspects of my life including computers, activities in and around
LA and other information I find fun or useful. Your weblog will have
its own character and theme.
On my weblog I also use another free web service that allows me to
quickly and easily maintain a set of links without the tedious work
of editing raw HTML files. Blogrolling.com allows you to set one or
more “lists” that contain links to other information. These
lists can then be inserted automatically into any web page you specify.
This means that if you want to put your list of favorite links on several
web pages, you only need to add the link once, instead of on every
web page. I use Blogrolling to maintain a list of recommended books
on my blog as well. This same list also appears in the Bookstore area
of my web site (http://welchwrite.com/bookstore/). Now, when I want
to recommend a new book, I only need add the title using Blogrolling.com
and it appears in on both the blog and the bookstore pages.
You have an immense amount of specialized knowledge locked up inside
your head. These computer tools can help you to make the most of
it, help to make your clients happier and thereby help expand your
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