What is an anchor skill?

Anchor_art_tAn anchor skill is a basic component in a professional’s repertoire that one should have, regardless of any other changes in environment or technology.

Anchor skills for writers include:

  • Typing over 35 wpm
  • Solid grasp of spelling and grammar
  • Fundamental technology skills (phone, email, Internet applications)
  • Hitting deadline
  • Communicating frequently and well

I originally wrote “Excellent grasp of spelling and grammar.” But I know too many writers who have a less-than-excellent grasp of this fundamental skill—yet are still highly professional people, very knowledgeable in their fields (not necessarily an anchor skill but a very marketable one to have), and great to work with. For them, there is spell check, and a copy editor. So, while I would prefer that every writer I work with have a near-perfect grasp of grammar and spelling, I can overlook minor issues if they meet my publication’s needs in other areas.

You might be surprised how difficult it is for many individuals to communicate. It wasn’t a huge issue for me when I worked in a downtown office along with an entire staff. But as the workforce, particularly in online publishing, becomes increasingly remote-oriented, communication has become a problem. If you want to be considered a professional, you need to be able to communicate frequently and effectively with your clients.

Intangible anchor skills include:

  • Building and maintaining contacts at publications and in various industries
  • Staying on pace and on schedule with projects
  • Creating long-term business relationships

Note how many of the tangible and intangible anchor skills have communication as their key component. I can’t stress this enough. I’m a homebody myself, someone who will lurk in the corner at a party if I don’t know anyone, so I understand many of the difficulties writers have in communicating with editors or clients. It’s something you have to get past.

In upcoming posts I’ll put together various ways that you can break the communications barrier in order to grab more clients and maintain good working relationships. Meantime, take a look at your own anchor skills and assess whether they need improvement. Further, if you think of any that I may have missed, list your suggested anchor skills in the comments below.

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