If you are a work from home professional consider these five helpful tools. I am particularly pleased with my new laptop clip-on ring light and stylish room divider.
Clubhouse – Clubhouse is a social media app that allows you to create a profile, build a following, follow people, and listen to, participate in or run “speaker panels” via audio chat. I call it the “old school radio app” because it involves hearing people speak. You can raise your hand and be called on to speak. I care because it’s hot in the public relations and startup arenas. The negative is that it’s only available via iOS which is iPhone. My experience on Clubhouse has been fun; it’s a nice change from writing comments, like on Twitter.
Room Divider – Fellow PR practitioner Kimberly Stoddard told me that her new room dividers ordered online helped beautify her Zoom background and block out the moving boxes. She had just gotten to her new place when I first saw them. She said this because I commented that her background Monet art looked gorgeous and natural: I asked her about it. The negative is that they are pretty large, typically six feet tall, so they take up space. I just received an elegant Asian style room divider that created a new office space in the corner of the living room. Another benefit is if you are participating in online meetings from a bedroom, the room divider can block out the view of the bed in the background.
Grammarly is a program that auto-magically adjusts grammar. Fellow consultant, C.J. Lipe said, “When I work with a client in drafting content, such as a blog, article, or newsletter it helps me catch punctuation and grammatical errors. It often gives suggestions or triggers ideas for making changes that may not be so obvious in the moment due to ‘tunnel vision’.” The negative, according to another friend, is that it adjusts the passive voice when he doesn’t want that to happen. He can’t figure out how to turn that off. So maybe it’s a bit too auto-magic sometimes.
Ring Light – My home office has big windows and despite heavy curtains it is hard to adjust the light. What makes matters worse is that I have a sun tunnel. This does not help boost my image during Zoom, Microsoft Teams or WebEx meetings. When I asked for suggestions for laptop meeting lights, I was given two tips, Lume which was $75, and ring. Ring is a style of light not a brand. The one I found online was only $25. It works well. The possible negative is that the large laptop clip is a bit tight. Is this bad for my laptop? Time will tell. Some friends swear by Lume Cube brand.
Canva – Canva is a freemium program that helps a non-technical person to create quality social media graphics. I like it because it is easy to use and I get compliments on the images I’ve created with it. Guy Kawasaki strongly recommended it to me years ago when I started consulting and I’m glad I took his advice. Granted, I think he was Canva’s paid influencer at the time, but that’s okay. He is unlikely to work for a company he doesn’t truly believe in. The negative is that Canva has added a lot of features over the years and is now a bit complicated to use. I do pay $1 for their photos from time to time. I also buy Shutterstock photos. Photos are needed for blog stories.
Stock up on a few new tools like a laptop light and a stylish room divider and give your online and personal brand image a boost.
As an aside, thanks Kimberly Stoddard for sending a photo of you and your new room divider.
Michelle McIntyre is an award winning tech PR consultant in the Silicon Valley. An IBM vet, she specializes in helping artificial intelligence, collaboration, data analytics and storage companies garner valuable attention. @FromMichelle on Twitter @Michelle408 on Clubhouse * Thanks to Meetup Bootstrappers’ Breakfast participants for generating some of these tips.