Wednesday, March 29, 2017

How Writing Amazing Emails Can Further Your Career

by Saikat Basu
Don’t worry, email isn’t dead or even old-fashioned yet, whatever the naysayers might be predicting. Social media might be taking over as ice-breakers, but the email is not only holding its own, it is also the strongest prong of the trident when it comes to having a handshake with someone who matters on the Web. Very few people in fact master the art of emailing. My colleague Joshua called it email sending anxiety. It is a very real thing and surprising, because all it takes are a few precisely paced tips to email efficiently.
Sending professional emails gives an intangible boost to your online (and offline) reputation. The ultimate yardstick of artful emailing is if you can bag a job or land a gig with just an impressive email. Or I would say, even if you can score an interview and get your foot inside the door. If your career progress is at stake, it’s time you learnt a few of the basic emailing tips that could even the odds for a career breakthrough.

Writing a Good Email Is Now a Basic Life Skill

It is something that still has to be learnt. In the professional world, a badly written email could be hara-kiri because many a time it serves as the first point of contact. Remember, your email has to go against other emails in crowded inbox each just a mouse click away from the trash-can. Cold-emailing is just as difficult as cold-calling – you have the first five seconds to create an impression. But it can be done if you get a few basics right. Here are ten of those.

Be Prepared

Do Your Research. Even before you type in the first name in the address field, you need to know at least something about the person you are mailing to. Thankfully, running a job research online is one of the easiest things nowadays though it is time intensive. LinkedIn,Facebook, and Twitter are good starting points as always for some career related research. We saw earlier how a well-maintained LinkedIn profile can be useful as a professional relationship management tool.
You should also establish whether the person you are emailing is in a position to give you a leg up in your career or at the very least can be an influencer. You also might try researching any fallback positions. For instance, an internship or a freelance project that could be a fit even if the primary job passes you by.

Add the Personal Touch

Never Mass Email. Just like sending out carpet bombing your industry with template based resumes is a bad idea, so is the idea of sending out generic emails. You have to treat each email as a laser guided precision delivery device. This is where research helps in finding out not only the name of the individual you would be addressing to, but also their status in the hierarchy. Don’t forget to add the right salutation. A memorable way to add a personal touch is to find a common ground with the recipient. It could be common course you took or as we will see in another point below, a common acquaintance.
Also, when it’s a career related email, create a professional looking email account if you don’t have one already; preferably with your full name.

Be Brief

Respect Time. Yours as well as the busy person you are sending the email to. The art of email gives top priority to the art of brevity. Telling your personal story with economy is the right approach when dealing with short attention spans. Usually, on a busy morning we scan our emails instead of reading them. A long email could be put-off for later and forgotten or simply junked.
A tip: revise your email repeatedly till you have managed to squeeze out every trivial bit of information. When you have cut out all the wasted words, your request becomes clear and specific.

Establish Connection and Context

The first email is an introduction. Like all introductions, it carries weight if you can use a referral or drop a name to establish a connection. As mentioned before, it also adds the personal touch. The best way to grab a job is to establish a relationship and it could start here if you can pivot someone’s reference in the email. It could be someone experienced who advised you on that particular industry. If you don’t have a name to use as a reference, mention how you found the person whom you are emailing. Maybe, you met them somewhere or read about their work and achievements. Even better – maybe, you share the same alma mater. The main purpose is to establish the reason why you are trying to connect and how the connection holds value for you.

Advertise Value

This is the hook which if pulled off can add value to your candidature for the job. This is the most difficult part for a fresher who does not have a platform yet. An experienced professional can use the research and find where he can make a difference. A single line mention could be an attention grabber. I got my second job by mentioning a newspaper report that the particular company was looking to expand in an area, and I had some market feedback from there. A newbie can mention the background work he or she has done to become better acquainted with the work the company does. He or she can offer ideas. It may not be in there scheme of things, but it does show that you are emotionally invested in their work. But again, keep it succinct and subtle.

Flattery Will Get You There

Don’t overdo it. Keep your compliments sincere and specific. Asking for advice instead of help always helps. Treat the email as a request for information rather than a job cover letter. Usually, people are willing to part with advice and information rather than something more substantial like an interview call. At least, with the first email you have taken a first tiny step towards your career goal.

Remember Your Objective

This first email is just a friendly handshake. It is not meant to be a resume carrier (yes, never attach your resume), so don’t jump the gun. The best thing you can hope for is a positive response that will lead to the next email. Sending a resume is a red-alert and cancels out the enthusiastic things you might have written in the email. The recipient may think that the email is just a lure for a job. There are other channels (like the HR department) for sending resumes.

Ask For a Referral

The best thing you can gain out of a blind alley conversation is a reference to someone else who might be of help. Always ask for a referral as the recipient may not be able to help you but it’s possible that someone he or she knows can help you out.

A Good Ending

This could be a new beginning if the email strikes the right notes. Just as you begin, it is also important to close well. Paying attention to youremail signature is also important because at a single glance it can tell the recipient a lot about you and your attention to detail. End your emails with the right valediction. More importantly, end with a call to action like a specific request.

Follow Up

A follow up email not only serves as a reminder but also projects your intent. It also helps you know if your email had the desired impact or got junked. Whether meeting in person for the first time or just emailing a stranger, a follow up email separates you from the rest of the business cards and helps with recall. Keep it concise.
The thumb-rule behind all the basic steps is to keep the communication going. Your objective is to take the exchange of emails beyond the first one, so that you can successfully break through the “stranger-wall” and network professionally. Even if you don’t succeed, don’t delete the contact because you never know when another window opens up. Writing amazing emails is a matter of persistence as much it is about sticking to some core rules. I have had my own shares of successes and failures. It is because of one such success that I am able to publish this article. Yes, I got my job at MakeUseOf because of an email. Share your success stories with us. There could be a tip hidden there somewhere which we could all us to write emails that could bowl someone over.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

#YourBrandHere: The Power Of The Hashtag

Perfect Post Types for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus & Pinterest

Google Maps Now Remembers Where You Parked Your Car

By  Dave Parrack  

Google Maps now has the ability to remember where you parked your car. Making Google Maps an indispensible app for anyone who either lives, or regularly travels into, a metropolitan area. And for once Google is putting you in control, rather than relying on its own algorithms.
If you live in a big city then you’ll know how hard it can be to find a parking space. In a nutshell there are too many cars, and not enough spaces to accommodate them all. However, even after you have bagged yourself a parking space you’ve then got to remember where you parked.
Which is where Google Maps could prove to be invaluable.

Save Your Parking

As spotted by Ars Technica, Google has quietly added a new “Save Your Parking” feature to Google Maps. This lets you save all of the information needed to locate your car again once you’ve parked up and walked away. If may even help you avoid getting a traffic ticket for a parking violation.Never Forget Where You Parked Again With These 5 Android Apps Never Forget Where You Parked Again With These 5 Android AppsNow, where did I leave that car? If you've ever found yourself confounded by this annoying problem, you know what a drag it can be to start hunting around a vast parking lot, laden with...READ MORE
Once you’ve parked your car you simply open Google Maps and tap the blue location dot. An option to “Save Your Parking” will appear in the menu, so click on it to add a “P” to your location. If you’re confident that will be enough to help you find your car again then simply walk away. 
Alternatively, you can add additional information, including photos of the location, notes about landmarks, and how long you have left on a parking meter. Google Maps will save your current parking location until you either click “Clear” or start over with another parking space.
Google previously tried something similar, with Google Now guessing when and where you parked. However, as this was based on your speed and GPS coordinates it was far from perfect. Which is probably why Google has put the users in charge this time around.Google Now Knows Where You Parked, Gets Offline Cards, And More Google Now Knows Where You Parked, Gets Offline Cards, And MoreThe Android Google Search app has been updated, and tucked inside it are some pretty awesome tweaks to Google Now that add quite a bit of usefulness to Google's personal assistant.READ MORE

Public Transport Is No Fun

We’re not sure how many of you will actually use this new Google Maps feature. However, those who do will likely find it extremely useful. Especially if it prevents you misplacing your car. OK, so public transport is probably an even better idea, but where’s the fun in that?
“Save Your Parking” is available in Google Maps v9.49 on Android, but is likely to also be available on the iOS version soon.
Do you regularly park your car in a crowded place? Have you ever misplaced your car? Will you be using this new “Save Your Parking” feature in Google Maps? What other features would you like to see added to Google Maps? Please let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: Matt Kieffer via Flickr  Source:
You can now share your real-time location using Google Maps. On the flipside this also means you can track the location of your friends as they go about their business. Most people will love this futuristic functionality, but we have a hunch privacy advocates may not be completely on board.
To get the most out of modern technology you have to give up some level of privacy. Google Maps is a case in point. While it’s entirely possible to use the app anonymously, allowing Google Maps to see your location makes it come alive. And Google Maps’ latest trick makes that truer than ever…Why Have Americans Given Up On Privacy? Why Have Americans Given Up On Privacy?A recent study by the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication concluded Americans are resigned to giving up data. Why is this, and does it affect more than just Americans?READ MORE

Google Maps Knows Where You Are

Google has added the ability for you to share your real-time location in Google Maps. To do so, simply tap the blue dot that shows where you are right now. Then tap “Share Location” and choose who you want to share your location with, and how long you want to share it with them.
You can share your location with your Google contacts, or send a link through your favorite messaging app. Once you have shared your location with a friend, they have the option to reciprocate. This could prove extremely useful if a group of you is planning to meet up in one location but struggling to find it and each other.

In terms of timing, you can choose to share your location for anything from 15 minutes or “until you turn it off”. Either way, you’ll see an icon on your own map reminding you you’re sharing your location. Google will also email you regular reminders that you’re sharing your location.
Google addresses any privacy concerns right up front, making it clear that you’re always in control of sharing your location. The company has also put various safeguards in place to prevent you from forgetting. However, this is unlikely to appease privacy advocates.

This Is a Real-Life Marauder’s Map

This ability to track locations in real-time means Google Maps is turning The Marauder’s Map into a reality. For the uninitiated among you, The Marauder’s Map is a magical document from Harry Potter which tracks the movements of everybody in the grounds of Hogwarts. Evanesco!9 Magical Harry Potter Gadgets You Could Actually Own 9 Magical Harry Potter Gadgets You Could Actually OwnSlowly but surely, science is catching up to the wonders you read about in the wonderful books written by J. K. Rowling. Yes, the Harry Potter universe is almost real.READ MORE
Google is rolling out location sharing in Google Maps as we speak, so even if you don’t yet have access to the feature, be assured you will do soon enough.
Do you use Google Maps? Do you let it see your location at all times? How do you feel about sharing your real-time location with friends? Does the idea of a real-life Marauder’s Map excite you? Or fill you with dread? Please let us know in the comments below!

12 Offline Smartphone Apps to Keep You Entertained on Your Commute

By   Khamosh Pathak

We’re living in a streaming world. That’s all well and good when you’re at home, at work, or in a cafe. You can binge watch a TV show, watch a YouTube video, and stream latest releases from Spotify without sparing a thought.The Pros and Cons of Binge-Watching Television The Pros and Cons of Binge-Watching TelevisionBinge-watching is a recent phenomenon that pretty much everybody has done thanks to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. But for all of its various pros, it does also have some cons.READ MORE
But things change when you’re in a plane, on a trip or on any sort of public transport. If you don’t want to get bored for hours at end, download some entertainment beforehand using the apps listed below.

1. Spotify

If you’re a Spotify Premium subscriber, you can download songs on your iPhone or Android phone for offline use. Spotify lets you download up to 3,333 songs on up to three devices. And as long as you connect to the internet once every 30 days, you’ll have continuous offline access to these songs.Is It Worth Upgrading to Spotify Premium? Is It Worth Upgrading to Spotify Premium?Spotify Free brings you tons of music at no cost, but are the extra features of Spotify Premium worth shelling out for? Let's find out...READ MORE
commute friendly apps spotify
Spotify lets you choose if you want to download songs, albums or playlists individually. When you’re browsing around, tap on the Download toggle to start downloading. If you go into your Library section, you’ll be able to download your entire library in one tap.
Download — Spotify for iOS (Free) | Android (Free)

2. Apple Music

Paying Apple Music subscribers can download songs for offline use. You first need to add a song to your library by tapping the + button. Then tap on the download (a cloud icon) button next to a song, album or playlist to start the download. Once it’s downloaded, you’ll see a Downloaded icon with a checkmark next to the song.10 Essential Apple Music Tips You Really Need to Know 10 Essential Apple Music Tips You Really Need to KnowSince its launch in 2015, Apple Music has come a long way, baby. Unfortunately, it's still not the easiest or most intuitive service to get to grips with. Which is where we come in...READ MORE
commute friendly apps apple music
Apple Music also lets you automatically download everything you add to your library. On iOS, go to Settings > Music > Automatic Downloads and turn it on. When you’re in the Library section, tap on Downloaded Music to view all the music that’s stored offline.
On Android, you’ll find the Download button after tapping on the three dotted menu next to songs and playlists. Apple Music also allows you to save songs directly to your SD Card. From the sidebar, tap on Settings > Downloads > Download Location and select a folder in your SD Card.
Download — Apple Music for Android (Free)

3. YouTube

YouTube has an Offline feature that’s available only in some countries like India, Pakistan, Egypt, Thailand, Vietnam, South Africa and more (full list here). If you’re in one of those countries, you’ll find a download button next to the video title in the YouTube app.
commute friendly apps youtube
If you’re in the US or elsewhere, the only officially way to download YouTube videos offline is to sign up for YouTube Red.Is YouTube Red Worth the Money? 7 Things You Need to Consider Is YouTube Red Worth the Money? 7 Things You Need to ConsiderYouTube Red has made headlines, both good and bad, but is the $10-a-month subscription service actually worth the money? Here, we look at the facts, and draw some conclusions.READ MORE
Download — YouTube for iOS (Free) | Android (Free)

4. Netflix

While the option isn’t available for everything you can stream on Netflix, you’ll still find a sizeable collection (including Netflix Original Series) that you can download for offline use on iOS and Android.15 New Netflix Originals You'll Be Watching in 2017 15 New Netflix Originals You'll Be Watching in 2017Netflix is now producing its own original content. And some of the new Netflix Originals set to debut in 2017 definitely look like they'll be worth watching.READ MORE
In the app, you’ll find a special Available for Download section in the sidebar that lists all the movies and TV shows you can download. When you’re browsing around, you’ll find the standard Download button next to movies and TV show episodes. Tap on it and the download will start. You’ll be able to monitor and pause downloads from the My Downloads section.
commute friendly apps netflix
From Settings, you’ll be able to change the quality of the download file. On Android, there’s another option called Download Location from where you’ll be able to choose any folder you want to save Netflix files to, including an SD Card.You Can Now Download Netflix Content to an SD Card You Can Now Download Netflix Content to an SD CardYou're no longer limited to the space on your mobile device, as you can now download Netflix content to an SD card. Caveats notwithstanding.READ MORE
You need to check in every 30 days with an internet connection to continue watching the downloaded media. There’s also a time limit for downloads but it depends on the content. Some will expire in seven days, some in 30 days. Netflix will send you a notification before that’s about to happen.
Download — Netflix for iOS (Free) | Android (Free)

5. Amazon Prime Video

commute friendly apps amazon prime video
One of the many benefits of a Prime membership is access to Amazon Prime Video, and the service has had an offline mode for a while now. When you’re browsing a movie or TV show, you’ll find a download button to the right. From Settings, you’ll be able to change the video quality for the video files as well.Is Amazon Prime A Good Deal? Is Amazon Prime A Good Deal?Amazon Prime seems like a great deal, but is it? We dig into the benefits to figure out if they're worth the $99 per year.READ MORE
Download — Amazon Prime Video for iOS (Free) | Android (Free)

6. Pocket

commute friendly apps pocket
The data-friendly way of killing time during your commute is to read. Pocket can be a great way to catch up on all the articles on the web you don’t have time for.
Install Pocket’s app, and their extensions for desktop browser and start saving articles. They’ll be downloaded in the Pocket app and you’ll be able to read them without internet access. Don’t want to read? Use Pocket’s built-in text to speech feature to have it read to you.
Download — Pocket for iOS (Free) | Android (Free)

7. Podcast Apps

commute friendly apps podcast
Listening to podcasts is a great way to learn new things or be entertained when you can’t really do anything else. You can listen to podcasts when you’re walking to work (when you can’t really watch or read), walking your dog, or even doing chores around the house.8 Alternative Ways to Be Smarter Without Reading Anything 8 Alternative Ways to Be Smarter Without Reading AnythingReading can be time consuming and a strain on the eyes. Here are eight alternatives to become smarter without reading anything. After all, you do want to learn things always.READ MORE
Just pick a podcast app — Overcast or Podcasts app on iOSPodBeam or Pocket Casts on Android— and start downloading podcasts you find interesting. New podcasts will be downloaded automatically when you’re on Wi-Fi.
Subscribe to half a dozen podcasts and you’ll never be in a position where you’re stuck in a subway with nothing to do (which is the worst).
Download — Pocket Casts for iOS (Free) | Android (Free)

8. Hyper News

commute friendly apps hyper news
Hyper News is like a video podcasts app but for news. When you’re at home, connected to Wi-Fi, the app will download short news videos automatically to your iPhone. When you’re on your commute, just open the app and start playing them. By the time you get to work, you’ll be all caught up and ready for the water cooler talk.
Download — Hyper News for iOS (Free)

9. gReader

commute friendly apps greader
Google Reader is dead but gReader is still here, alive and kicking. gReader is a feature rich yet simple RSS reader that lets you manually add sources and syncs with Feedly as well. gReader’s offline sync feature works reliably so you’ll have the latest feed ready to read when you step on the subway.
Download — gReader for Android (Free)

10. Newsify

commute friendly apps newsify
Newsify is a news and RSS reader that will automatically download new articles from subscribed sites. You can add sources directly from Newsify or just connect your Feedly account. Newsify is a free app that comes with ads (but that shouldn’t be a problem when you’re reading news articles in offline mode).
If you don’t mind paying, look into Reeder 3 for iPhone and iPad. It is, in my opinion, the best RSS reader for iOS.7 Best iPad News Apps to Follow the Latest Headlines 7 Best iPad News Apps to Follow the Latest HeadlinesWhether you're hungry for the very latest happenings or just looking to catch up on the week's events, your iPad is a great news reader.READ MORE
Download — Newsify for iOS (Free)

11. Kindle

commute friendly apps kindle
While it’s not the best experience, you can still read entire books on your iPhone, iPad or Android device. Just download the Kindle app, buy some books, and start reading.
Download — Kindle for iOS (Free) | Android (Free)

12. Audible

commute friendly apps audible
Again, reading on a crowded subway can be a bit too much. This is where audiobooks come in. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense approach to audiobooks, just download Audible and buy audiobooks from there. For free options, check out the LibriVox app for Android and Audiobooks app on iOS.
If you already have a collection of DRM-free audiobooks, just load them up on your iPhone or Android device before heading out.Top 3 Apps for Listening to DRM-Free Audiobooks on iPhone Top 3 Apps for Listening to DRM-Free Audiobooks on iPhoneDon't listen to audiobooks using your iPhone's Music app, use a proper app and vastly improve the experience.READ MORE
Download — Audible for iOS (Free) | Android (Free)

And Don’t Forget the Work Files

We’re increasingly moving to a world where work documents are stored in the cloud. But an internet connection isn’t available everywhere. What if you want to access an important document, or looks something up on a PDF that’s stored in your work Dropbox account? It’s best to plan ahead and have these important files stored offline always.
In the Dropbox app on Android, open the file in question and select Available Offline. On iOS, the option is called Make Available Offline. You’ll find similar options in Google Drive and apps like Google Docs, Sheets, Quip and so on.
How do you stay entertained on your commute or when travelling? Share with us in the comments below.
Image Credits: Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock  Source:

How to View and Delete Your Location History on Facebook

By  Nancy Messieh, If you have the Facebook mobile app installed on your phone, chances are it’s storing a lot more of your location hi...