Tricks of the trade


Like any professional, I’m sure each of you have developed certain tricks of the trade—marketing techniques, sales strategies, pie charts, what have you—to help you do your job faster and better. As I’m relatively new to the HME game, I’m still learning what those tricks are so I can disseminate them to the masses, which I do, using my own tricks.

Perhaps after sharing some of mine, you will be more inclined to share some of yours.


1. LinkedIn is basically one enormous job title database.

Technically I have a LinkedIn profile, but I don’t use it as a business-oriented social networking service. I use it as a spell check. Rule number 5739 of journalism: Always ask your interviewee to spell his or her name. Always. Smith is a pretty standard surname. Until the day you meet Ben Smithe, who hails from 1868. There are occasions when I forget to ask, or worse, I forget to jot down someone’s job title, but that’s what Al Gore invented the Internet for.


2. Facebook isn’t just for emotional status updates and candy crush invites.

When I’m not stalking ex-classmates, I’m using Twitter and Facebook to find scoops. It seems counter intuitive to use the same interface that gave rise to “Grumpy Cat” and Rebecca Black for hard hitting journalistic enterprises, but I do. I don’t walk away with a story idea every week, much less every day, but once in awhile I come across a gem—that needs to be shaped and shined and sandblasted.


3. What’s another word for thesaurus?

More than The AP Stylebook, more than spell check, more than diet coke; my greatest tool is It means the difference between “sad” and “melancholy”; “lucky” and “charmed”; “fake” and “apocryphal”. It’s not that I’ve never heard these words before, but when I write, I usually think about what I want to say in terms of feelings and concepts, rather than specific words, which need to be plucked out of the ether. That’s where the thesaurus machine comes in: I have a specific word in my mind that I want to use, I just don’t know what it is, until it is presented to me, kind of like an all-you-can-eat-buffet, minus the calories.