Wednesday, December 5, 2012

SkillPages - a New Job and Business Network

I have discovered a new and growing job and business network called Skill Pages which  looks like a fascinating place for businesses and sole traders to advertise, or for people who just want to get their profiles out there. On Skill Pages you create your very own skill page - or a list of skillpages where you can advertise your business, skills, and even start posting on a blog. You can further build up your profile by recommending other Skill Pagers, and they can recommend you..

A Skill Page also has facilities for building networks, post job opportunities and look for job opportunities. Some of the opportunities I have seen so far are for handymen, project managers, software developers, handymen cartoonists and accountants. But Skill Pages is still young, so there is plenty of scope for more job opportunities. Skill Pages has the added bonus in that you can link your Skill Pages profile to Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, and Linkedin.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Meeting the Plain English Industry


Being a proofreader, I am naturally interested in functions, events and seminars that are connected with writing, editing and publishing. So when Write Ltd offered an evening on ‘The Challenges of Editing in Plain Language’ at Baldwins Centre, Wellington, on 2 October I decided to attend, although I was not quite sure what to expect from a panel on editing in plain language.

I soon found out that it was all about the challenges and pitfalls of writing in plain English. Plain, simple English that is easy to read and easy to understand. And in a world where people are increasingly busy and want documents that are user-friendly and easy to understand, plain English is vital. But there are so many reasons why documents are not in plain English: gobbledygook, specialist language, poor language skills, English as second language, and poor structural skills to name but a few. And that is why Write and other services and specialists in plain English are flourishing.

Now, you would expect plain English to be straightforward and go without saying. But I soon found out from our panel of five speakers that editing documents to read in plain English was not that easy. Each speaker had only five minutes to speak, so they used their five minutes to speak on one particular difficulty in the plain English industry.

Troubles in Wonderland Presentation

First speaker was James Burgess of Write itself. James told there can be a huge gulf of differences between what the plain English specialists will advise and what the client wants, expects or understands. Fortunately most of these gaps can be bridged with effective conciliatory and communication skills. Still, you never know what to expect with a new plain English language project; it can surprise you and lead you on tangents you didn’t expect.

Next was an editor from Statistics New Zealand and a representative of Plain English Language Champions. The plain English challenge here is to transform statistics into layman’s terms. The problem is that stasticians do not know plain English; they use mathematical language. Bridging the gulf between these two languages has led to the rise of the Plain English Language Champions, checklists, brochures and guides to plain English, and plain English courses.

Eloise Oruvwuje of Careers NZ then told us of her ‘Troubles in Wonderland’. The challenges to plain English here were organisational ones: problems with your team, problems with other teams, and problems with other organisations that are not on the same level with you, even people who do not use English the way you do. For example, Eloise told us about a complaint from a government official that was caused by the gulf between plain English and politicians who do not use plain English but political gobbledygook. It was yet another challenge to plain English – some people, organisations and sectors simply do not use or think in plain English.

Need Structure Presentation

Fourth was Plain English Award winner Maryland Spencer. The plain English problem she addresses is simple: structure. Too many documents are unreadable because they have no structure, no headings, no bullet points or any of the separators that makes them clear and easy to follow, or they have too much information. In today’s climate of busy corporate people and website information, a document that tells you what you need to know in one reading is essential. Maryland’s powerpoint showed us how simple headings, chunking of themes and cutting out unnecessary or repetitive words can make all the difference in plain English.

Finally we had Ngaire Dixon, an editor from Wavelength Ltd. Ngaire’s reasons for plain English were simple – her company writes educational programmes. Fortunately Wavelength does not encounter many problems with plain English, so I think her plain English language challenge is writing educational programmes that the users can understand.

Then it was the question period, followed by a return to drinks, nibbles and chatting before saying our farewells and returning home. I was left to think that the reasons for plain English and services like Write were obvious, simple and straightforward – but getting documents to read in plain English was not. All the same, somebody will say ‘speak English, will you!’ if you’re not talking in plain English. And that is why the plain English industry is there for all our government, corporate, education and publishing sectors.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Venus Networking Function

Recently I tried the Venus Network, a nationwide business referral community for businesswomen. Joining a Venus group means a regular round table where you can share your business cards, promote yourself and your business and find whole new business friends and contacts. There is a joining fee, but the benefits include whole new networks, business friends and referrals to expand your business on and your own mini-website with Venus among others. 

The moment I walked in, I was instantly struck by how popular the network was – there were hardly any chairs left to sit on! I must say this was the first time I’d ever seen a business community where everyone puts their business cards into a card holder for people to select at their leisure as it passes around the table. I was really impressed with this; it sure beats simply passing them around across the table or whatever. Numbers were so huge and time was so limited that there was only enough time for us to go right around the table, saying who we were and what we did. But I did find out that the Venuses pair up to ‘rave’ with each other outside their regular meetings. 

As luck would have it, I timed that tryout so well that I found out the Lower Hutt Venus groups were hosting the latest Venus social function at HVCC on 21 September. Venus groups from all over Wellington, including Mana, would come to meet and mingle over drinks and nibbles, and then settle down to watch Venus women from Lower Hutt give one-minute powerpoint presentations Just one minute to explain what they do and promote their businesses. And for the Venuses who had come from outside Lower Hutt, it was their chance to learn about what their Lower Hutt counterparts had to offer. Presentations included ‘Nourish ‘n Nurture’ natural eating consultancy and why diets and scales don’t work; Rags2 Fitness – for fitness, of course; Jin Cowan photography; Thrive Consultancy; SendoutCards who make gift cards to order; Hutt Valley Disabled Resources Trust, the number 1 trust who make intellectually disabled people visible; and so many others to list here. And here are some photographs of that event. 

So there were my first impressions of Venus. I certainly had some surprises and thought it was a bit…different. I have not yet decided whether or not to join, although their pamphlet boasts of testimonials from people who say it was one of their finest business investments.
If you want to find out more about Venus, their site is

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My impressions of Hutt Valley Business Expo 2012

On 12 September we had the Business Expo at the Horticultural Hall. The Hutt News said it was the first in two years and had received a strong response. The paper did not say that every single one of the 60 stalls was booked out. When I first walked in, I was stunned at how big and busy it all was with all 60 stalls up and running and doing a very happy business! They ought to be with the six page spread they received in The Hutt News. All 60 stalls were listed, so that must have brought in hundreds of people seeking restaurants, vodafones, iPads, new security features, travel agents, exposure on the radio and so many other services and products that Hutt Valley has to offer.

For the first time, the Business Expo was providing seminars on how to improve your business as well. One seminar was on getting your business up in Google search results. Unfortunately I could not make it to any of the seminars, so I have no feedback there. But I can certainly tell you that there was something for everyone there, whether they were in business or not, as someone will always have a use for banks, home loans, book keepers, coffee makers, iPads, Vodfone, Weltec, caterers or someone to mind the house. I even found a few surprises; I didn’t expect to find Work and Income there, but there they were, telling business owners that WINZ was an outfit they could call about recruiting needs. And there was Hutt City Council telling us about their community projects, including how we can cut down on vandalism if we ‘adopt a spot’. There were some stalls that raised a laugh, such as the little indoor golf at Boulcott Farm (see above). 

So you could just stand and have a quick putty on the indoor green while chatting away. For refreshments there was the Tickled Pink stall, where you could have coffee and cake and be in the draw to win their cake. Yes, there were plenty of draws to enter – mostly for bottles of wine, but there were services and products as prizes as well. Always be sure to take plenty of business cards to the Expo so you can enter the draws.

This must have been the biggest and most successful business expo the Chamber of Commerce has run to date. I hope to be seeing it again next year, looking even bigger and busier and happier. And I close with some shots of the Business Expo.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pocket Jobs is Expanding

Pocket Jobs is now available in Auckland. Yes, I thought they would expand beyond Wellington, but it was certainly fast work - it's only their second week! Well, it can only be a matter of time before www.Pocket.Jobs will be nationwide and one of New Zealand's biggest job searching websites.

Pocket Jobs

I want to tell you about this new job website: Pocket Jobs at www.Pocket.Jobs.
Pocket Jobs is a brand new job-hunting site that creates jobs out of Wellington’ hidden talent – the talent that is found in friends, family, students, stay-at-home parents and others who want jobs such as cleaning, sewing, babysitting, gardening, bookkeeping, IT, baking and dog-walking. Pocket Jobs provides quick cash jobs and whole new outlets for these hidden talents. Some of the jobs I have seen so far include: cleaning microwaves, writing blogs and website content, creating voicemail messages, designing book covers, taking rubbish to the tip, and demonstrating sales products. And new types of jobs are being added every day.
Joining Pocket Jobs is free, and all you need is your Facebook or email address. Here's how it works:
Find a Job: browse the listings on Find a Job, find the ones that match your skills, and put in a bid.
Post a Job: Go too Post a Job with your job description, the amount you are willing to pay and when you need it done by. Pocketers with the skills you need will be notified and they can bid for the job. Pick a Pocketer, and once the job is done and paid for, and if you like, reviewed, and the price is only a small service fee on your credit card. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hutt Valley Business Expo 2012

The Hutt Valley Business Expo is coming on Wednesday 12 September.

The expo is a fun way for business owners to promote their businesses, and for everyone, whether business or not, to find new services, contacts and networks in the business world. Or you can even just take the opportunity to suss out what's going in the Lower Hutt businesses. 

It all happens at a whole day of business stalls in the Lower Hutt Horticultural Hall, where you can meet Hutt Valley business owners and their services and products. Stalls can range from accountants, business consultants and health & fitness to fancy dress hire. 

The expo also has plenty of draws for prizes, so take plenty of business cards so you can enter them!

The Hutt Valley Business Expo is sponsored by the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce and Go Fi8ure.
Date: Wednesday 12th September Time: 9.00-5.00pm
Venue: Horticultural Hall
More info
click here
If you want to register for a stand, contact Renee Walkinshaw

Welcome to My Blog!

Welcome to my blog!

My name is Briony Coote and I run a proofreading and copy editing business, An Eye For Detail

I want to share with you the insights, observations and tips I gain over my course as a proof reader, writer and member of various professional organisations. Over the course of my blog these will include observations and musings on the world of punctuation and grammar, computer tips, and news and insights from the Chamber of Commerce, Toastmasters speechcraft, and the heritage and history of New Zealand.

Please welcome, and I shall be looking forward to comments and new friends.