Tech Comm Café: Feb. 8 recap; next meeting March 8, 2017

Tech Comm Café: Feb. 8 recap; next meeting March 8, 2017

On February 8 the Vancouver-area Tech Comm Café attracted a small but enthusiastic group, despite seven cancellations because of the snow. We made some great connections over lively conversation.

To get things started, each of us shared a bit about our backgrounds and experiences. It’s always interesting to hear the diverse paths that led people to become technical writers.

One person brought such varied experience and education that it prompted a discussion on the importance of clearly demonstrating your focus when presenting yourself to employers. Be clear about the type of work you’re looking for, and market yourself as you want to be known.

As one person spoke about becoming an instructional designer, the question of creating instructional videos came up. I was reminded of the great resources on the STC Canada West Coast Chapter website, where anyone can access the Tools and Techniques pages, and of the chapter’s educational webinars and events.

As we approach the tax season, a very relevant topic was raised regarding tax implications for independent contractors. Every situation is different and worth clarifying with a professional. This brought up the question of GST. The Canada Revenue Agency has rules about how much you need to earn in several consecutive quarters before you’re required to charge your clients GST. But even if you don’t earn that much, you might not want your clients to know that!

The topic of recruiters came up and we shared our varied experiences using agencies and whether to add recruiters who often request to connect on LinkedIn. Experiences varied; some people have made valuable connections this way, while others were less convinced. Sharing the names of good agencies was helpful. It’s worthwhile to seek out recommendations and do your research. Government agencies and larger organizations often work exclusively through agencies, so you might not have a choice.

You never know where opportunities will come from. One person attended this meeting hoping to find someone with skills that closely matched those held by another who was there. We all agreed that most jobs and contracts come through connections and referrals. So, whether you’re looking to hire, looking for new work, or just interested in what other technical writers are up to, make the time to join the next Tech Comm Café!

Next Meetings

  • The Lower Mainland Tech Comm Café will meet on March 8; details below.
  • The Vancouver Island Tech Comm Café will meet in spring 2017. Check for details soon, or contact admin (at) and ask to be added to the mailing list.

The TCC provides networking opportunities, job leads, answers to work-related dilemmas, and a burst of professional energy to keep you motivated. We discuss technical writing tools and techniques, career planning, portfolios, and anything else related to working as a technical communicator.

We welcome anyone who’s interested in technical communication — contractor, in-house, student, long-time tech writer, STC member, non-member, career-changer, or recruiter. We hope to see you at the next meeting!

Next Vancouver-Area Tech Comm Café: Wednesday, March 8, 2017

If you plan to attend, please RSVP to admin (at)

Date: Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Time: 6:30–8:00 pm Pacific Time

Location: Allegro Café, Whole Foods Market, 510 West 8th Avenue at Cambie, Vancouver. The Allegro is the smaller coffee bar on the mezzanine level, with entrance on the Cambie Street side (not the restaurant downstairs in the main store area). Close to Broadway-City Hall Skytrain (Canada Line) and Broadway buses; pay parking on the street or in the Whole Foods underground parkade, entrance on West 8th Ave.


  1. Introductions. Take 60 seconds to introduce yourself, your background, current activities. A good chance to try out that new elevator speech.
  2. Announcements and job leads. If you know of an interesting event or a job opening, or you’re looking for work, share it with the group.
  3. Brainstorming Q&A. Ask about a work-related problem and discuss potential solutions.
  4. Speed networking. Spend a few minutes with a new contact, exchange business cards, and discuss your professional backgrounds and goals.