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Publications > Dateline Houston > January 2004 > Chapter News

Volume 43, Issue 4

January 2004

Chapter News

February Competitions Award Banquet

Please join us to celebrate the excellence of technical communications achieved by our peers. Learn from their experience and work products how to provide more value to your own organization.


February 6, 2004


Hilton Houston Westchase & Towers

9999 Westheimer Road


6:30 - 7:30 p.m. Viewing of winning entries
7:30 - 9:00 p.m. Banquet & awards
9:00 - 9:30 p.m. Additional viewing of entries

Traditional Business Attire Suggested

Look for your invitation and RSVP form in the mail.

For the latest information, go to the STC Houston Web page at or email

Membership News—Deduct Your STC Dues

by David Remson, Information Developer, NetIQ

If you pay taxes in the United States, keep in mind that STC dues are tax deductible. You can claim dues as a deduction in several ways.

Charitable Expense

You can deduct at least a portion of your STC dues if you claim this portion as a charitable donation. IRS publication 526 (rev. 2000) defines this option:

You may be able to deduct membership fees or dues you pay to a qualified organization. However, you can deduct only the amount that is more than the value of the benefits you receive.

As a 501(c)(3) organization, STC is a qualified organization. The only determination you need to make is the amount that is more than the value of the benefits you receive. STC's tangible benefits can be estimated at $30 ($15 for the Society's quarterly journal, Technical Communication, and $15 for the magazine, Intercom). The difference between the cost of membership ($125 in 2003) and tangible benefits ($30) is $95, and you can claim that amount as a charitable contribution.

Business Expense

If you are an employee or a self-employed consultant, you can claim the full amount of dues as a business expense.

Miscellaneous Deduction

If you do not fall into the categories defined above, you may still be able to claim the amount of the dues as a miscellaneous deduction. For miscellaneous deductions to affect your taxes, the total amount of the miscellaneous deductions must exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.

If dues are deducted as a charitable expense, business expense, or miscellaneous deduction, they must be deducted from the tax return filed for the year in which they were paid. In other words, dues paid in 2003 may be deducted only on 2003 tax returns. If you have not yet renewed your membership for 2004, renew today and save the documentation for your 2004 tax returns. For more information, see the IRS web site at

Money, Not Time

Please be aware that, while dues, contributions, and out-of-pocket expenses may be deducted, personal services may not.

(This article was reprinted in part from November 2003 Tieline.)

Employment Report

by Steve Shriver, Contract Technical Writer, Baker Hughes

Here's great idea I got from Tom Green, who gleaned it from the TECHWR-L web site:

Sometimes we need to be reminded of the purpose of a résumé—to get an interview. The résumé entices the recruiter to want to meet you and then you get an opportunity to sell yourself. I'm going to try this idea myself, especially when I see something I really want to go for.

I've had a lot of sales experience in my previous life and I'm grateful to have that skill to fall back on. I might end up selling real estate someday in my "retirement," for example. I want to emphasize that it is a skill, that is, a talent that can be developed. Sales is something we all do, whether we realize it or not, and whether we're good at it or not. It's basic people-skill stuff.

There are three things that are important in progressing along your career path and I've been talking these until I'm blue in the face: 1) a 30-second sound bite, 2) résumé accomplishment statements, and 3) a targeted résumé, outlined in minute detail in the link noted above. Notice that two of them focus on the résumé, just to get your foot in the door.

If you can't get the interview, you can't sell yourself. That's where the 30-second sound bite is so important. Most of us are conditioned to handle any pitch for 30 seconds. Think about it—how many TV commercials have you seen in your life? We're actually entertained by commercials, sometimes enlightened, but always sold.

However, a good sales pitch never seems like it. It makes me think it's my idea. Nobody wants to be sold. But lots of people are buying all kinds of stuff. We live in a consumer-oriented culture; some would even call it consumer crazy.

A good sales pitch takes lots of planning and practice—Madison Avenue has been using this magic formula for years and years. Write it out first, then rewrite it, time it, and practice it in front of the mirror. Seriously. This is how it works, it has to sound conversational, perfectly natural.

And you can't ramble on and on. This is where many people get in trouble, especially a poor salesman. They don't know when to shut up. Thirty seconds is it. Never talk more than 30 seconds—you'll bore your recipient. Try to finish off your short spiel with a question. This is a natural transition for the other party to talk.

You need to know how you're coming across, so now you can practice the other equally important part of your sales pitch—listening. These are basic people skills and they work wonders in selling yourself, which is your most important sale ever.

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