My post in 2013 was a reaction, at least in part, to the frustration I felt with the way we in the profession all seemed to work with one hand tied behind our backs. The fact that we were the ones with the rope, seemingly tying our own hands, only added to that frustration. Also, it wasn’t that the grass was necessarily greener on their side, but a lot of what I was hearing from other comms pros was that they felt that they played second fiddle to their marketing colleagues. Internal Comms seemed to need a bit of a shot in the arm.
Doing the communications work that I do, I’m regularly in front of rooms full of people talking about the importance of connectedness in organisations and business. This usually translates as “how do I better use social and digital media for work?”
Some come bursting with enthusiasm – they’ve done some stuff and are starting to see the value or they’re curious about how they can do more. Some come laden with fear – they know they ought to be better connected, and understand social media may be a means to that end, but they’re not sure what to say, when to say it and to who.
Some come ready just to be taught.
There is a curiosity and deep interest at the heart of any passion. If you don’t have these things, then the end result is a function, something you purely need to do to exist.
Connectedness is not a function. It’s not taught, but learnt. Those with enthusiasm will find a path, those with fear will overcome it, those who only want to be taught are shit out of luck.
Social media consultants can only have a short lifespan, right? I mean, it’s been a good few years…but there can’t be too many people left out there who need the obvious pointed out to them…can there?
On the contrary, it seems to me that demand is at an all time high. For all the over-intellectualising of the subject, there is still a massive amount of “this is a tweet and this is what a hashtag is” needed at every level of the organisations we work for. In the last week alone I’ve seen some quite dry meetings brought to life when someone raises the subject of social media and why they think it’s important to them or their business. I’ve also faced questions about the business value of Twitter despite showing examples of high powered people having all manner of business conversations in 140 characters.
Love or hate social media, it’s part of the landscape. Buy into it or not; being able to argue for or against it is rapidly becoming essential at networking events, meetings and in the boardroom. And that’s before you’ve even got close to discussions about ‘digital’ or the #futureofwork.
Having done this within the organisation I work for, I’m now exploring what I can do for our clients which is not a huge sell to be honest. A conversation about our approach usually sparks interest, it’s what we follow that conversation up with that counts.
So if this blog post reaches the eyes or ears of any of our client’s CEOs out there, I’ll offer up to half a day of free social media coaching* for you and your board. My only stipulation is that you, the CEO must be present. Your business strategy starts with you, so too must social media strategy if it’s going to stick.
Over to you.
*First five (5) respondents.
Once again this morning I was confronted by two old friends in a meeting about social media for communication.
Round of applause please for ‘lack of time’ and ‘nothing to say’.
OK, end applause.
If you can argue that everything you do to communicate with your clients, peers and teams is 100% effective, then please, carry on and we’ll move on to someone less effective who wants our help.
If, however, you see room for improvement or the teams you manage have forgotten what you look like, then take heed.
It may be time to think about what ineffective uses of your time you could put aside for something more effective. Open yourself to the possibility that a blog post or a status update isn’t actually a waste of your time and may lead to something unexpected.
And if you have nothing to say then perhaps use the time to listen to what others are saying and contributing. I guarantee there are conversations out there where you could listen and learn or contribute and add value.
I’m banning my two old friends from darkening my meetings ever again! Until the next time…
A repost from Rachel Miller’s All Things IC blog…written by me http://www.allthingsic.com/esnanon
Come and air your ESN successes and stresses
Who can you turn to in your contacts book to ask for confidential advice and guidance about all things enterprise social network (ESN) related?
I regularly get emails from people asking for my opinion, but what if there was a whole room of your peers willing and able to share their stories?
Well now there is, and here to tell us all about a shiny new unconference – that you’re invited to – is comms pro Paul Thomas @tallpaul75. Over to you Paul…
Come and air your ESN successes and stresses
Rachel has invited me to write a post on her blog, which is incredibly gracious of her seeing as it is her idea (and that of her The Big Yak compadres in The IC Crowd) that we’ve stolen, belt and braces!
Alex Chapel @achapel01, from KPMG, Kim England @miss_england_19, from Pearson, and I have recently announced our plans to hold an ESN unconference, #ESNanon. It’s being held on 21 March at Pearson’s offices on The Strand, London.
This is the first in what we hope will be a series of events dedicated to those who work in the ever-growing world of ESN.
So why an unconference?
I have a love/hate relationship with conferences and networking events. Attend a good one and I walk away invigorated, a spring in my step, a song in my heart, ready to embrace the challenges I’ve taken away.
Attend a bad one and pretty much the reverse is true.
In most cases the conferences I attend are neither altogether good nor altogether bad, they just don’t do a good enough job of designing themselves around the most important people – their attendees.
Usually it’s plenary, coffee, plenary, lunch, workshop, coffee, workshop, close, networking drinks.
Coffee is interrupted by vendors selling you something you don’t need, lunch is the usual juggling of plate, glass and conversation which generally ends up with you not enjoying any of its constituent parts.
It was at one of these events where Alex and I sat at the end talking about how we’d not managed to have many conversations at all with our peers. The whole event had moved so fast that actual conversation had only played a very small part.
“What we need is an unconference” I said.
I met Alex a couple of years ago when introduced by Euan Semple @euan. I was probably bleating on about how hard my job was proving, leading Grant Thornton‘s social business approach, and he suggested we meet.
Alex works for KPMG and collaboration isn’t necessarily the first word that springs to mind when you mention our firm’s names in the same breath, but here we were.
For our initial meetings, in the pub, were joined by a couple of others struggling with Enterprise Social Networks in large organisations. Thank God beer was involved!
What followed were a couple of downloading sessions where we shared the challenges we were facing and offered each other advice on how to overcome them.
Back to the point Paul…
#TheBigYak is organised by the trinity of Rachel, Jenni Wheller and Dana Leeson (You can find us @theICcrowd and read about the event here – Rachel). It was clear we needed a third Musketeer and so we spoke to Kim England at a networking event, briefly outlining the idea and agreeing to meet for coffee.
One coffee and one lunch later we had a rough plan, a name for the event (ESN Anonymous seemed to reflect the peer therapy sentiment) and a location.
And so now all we need to do is to replicate that peer sharing at scale. 70 people in one place, on a Saturday, willing to contribute, share and help each other through a wide range of challenges and conundrums.
We’ll follow the rules of the unconference, allowing our attendees to lead the agenda, employing the rule of two feet and making sure everyone leaves feeling they’ve learnt something or contributed in some way.
There’s so much to discuss including:
- how to write the business case for ESN
- getting buy-in at senior level
- approach to implementation
- launch strategies
- big questions around proving long-term value
- interpreting your numbers
- plus managing your community.
I’m always blown away by the amount of egoless sharing that goes on between communications professionals and their dedication to doing a great job.
We’ve chosen a Saturday so we get the really dedicated. ‘give up my Saturday’ comms pros who will bring immense value to the room. All yours for a tenner (£10) and a Saturday!
So, if that sounds good…and come on, it really does…sign up at our Eventbrite page now and we’ll see you for a really good chat on 21 March!
Post author: Paul Thomas.
Thanks Paul. I have signed up to attend, babysitters for my toddler and newborn twins permitting, and hope to make it along. Hats off to Paul, Kim and Alex as I know how much hard work it takes to organise such an event, especially alongside the day job.
Even though one would assume there’s less work as it’s unstructured, I promise you that’s not the case! But the beauty of an unconference is that you get out what you put into it. Plus you should leave with your questions answered as you help shape the content.
Are you going to #ESNAnon? If not, you can follow the conversations via the hashtag #ESNanon before, during and after the event on Twitter.
Want to find out more about enterprise social networks and using social media internally? See the links below for articles I’ve published about them over the six years I’ve been writing my blog for.
You can also discover what events are coming up for comms pros to attend globally by checking out my comms calendar.
Plus save money off PR Week’s PR360 event simply by being a reader of my blog – see my exclusive deal.
Here are the links:
- Community management basics for IC pros
- How you can use apps for internal comms
- Blog posts tagged ESN on All Things IC
- 400+ case studies on using social media internally
- By me: Why use enterprise social networks for internal communication?
- On my blog: 300+ social media policies and videos
- On my blog: Defining social business
- My YouTube playlist of social media policies
- Creating the conversation: strategies for internal communication (features interview with me)
- Everything I’ve published to date about Yammer (includes 69 case studies)
- On my blog: Centres of excellence for social media?
- On my blog: How many social media channels do you know?
- On my blog: What’s in a name? Overview of my internal social media research with simply-communicate
- On my blog: My research into language of social media use reveals collaboration is king
Rachel Miller @AllthingsIC
First published on All Things IC blog 13 February 2015.
This is the job spec that I’ve just written for a Host for our new client space in Hertfordshire. This will be the most important role in the small team we’re putting together.
We’re currently benchmarking the role and salary will be decided by the end of the week. In the meantime, have a look and see if this is anyone you know!
Job title – Host
Purpose – To host and ensure the smooth and professional running of our Herts space
We’re looking for a dynamic full time host for our exciting new client space in St Albans.
You’ll be joining us at a very exciting time as we open a brand new Grant Thornton experience in St Albans, Hertfordshire. Predominantly a space for our clients (we expect over half of our footfall to be customers) this is not a traditional office by any stretch.
If you imagine the space as being one part executive airport lounge, one part collaboration suite and one part event space (we have room to house events for up to 40 people) you won’t be too far wrong. The space will be home to a small team of dynamic and entrepreneurial people from across our traditional teams in Tax and Audit, as well as from our internal social media and communications teams. You’ll also work with a wide range of Grant Thornton people as they visit the space however, your first responsibility will be to our clients, ensuring that their experience of the space is one that they’ll enjoy, remember and return to again and again.
As this is a brand new role to Grant Thornton and one which we expect to set new standards across the hosted business lounge industry, the person we’re looking for will be an entrepreneurial, highly collaborative and empowered individual who’s prepared to get stuck in and develop the role of host alongside the rest of our small team.
We’re looking for someone who will show real ownership of both the role and the space, demonstrating creativity in all they do. The initial focus will be to help us build the client experience; from front line customer interaction and a concierge style service, to helping us to build lasting relationships with clients, suppliers and intermediaries alike.
There will be no typical ‘day in the life’, the role is there to be defined. You can expect to be involved in and contributing to client meetings, organising regular events and establishing and maintaining relationships with local suppliers such as caterers, printers and other local businesses.
You’ll be IT literate, just as happy changing printer cartridges as you are sending a tweet or helping our clients access the wifi. You’ll also be the main point of contact for our central IT team where necessary.
You may be from a hospitality or customer service background, just as at ease with building relationships with a visiting CEO as you are with chasing up a delivery of coffee. Did we mention it would be helpful if you were a trained barista, or at least able to make the best coffee in town?
So if you’re an exceptional office manager/team assistant/customer service/event organiser/account manager/barista and want to help us develop the most important role in our small, ‘start-up’ team, then apply here!
- to welcome and attend visitors to our client space in St Albans
- ‘check-in’– connect visitors to IT and other services and show them around
- to assist the team
- building and facility management
- to support our regular events, including guest management, managing suppliers and organising catering
- to work flexibly as required to suit the requirements of the business (events may be early morning, or evening – we anticipate opening 7am to 7pm but will all be responsible for covering those opening hours)
- entrepreneurial and dynamic
- quick to establish strong relationships
- happy to get your hands dirty and get stuck in
- an experienced customer service professional or front of house host
- used to dealing with a wide range of people
- flexible and happy to work flexibly
- computer literate and at ease with technology, able to figure out software quickly
- able to explain things clearly
This week I’m using ‘downtime’ in Las Vegas to think about changes to my role over the last few years.
I wrote in a previous blog post about the changing role of the internal communicator and one of the biggest changes for me has been attending and speaking at events. As I ready myself for a presentation in Las Vegas on Thursday, I thought it may be a good time to reflect on why I see this as an important part of my role and why I’d recommend taking the leap to anyone in internal communication.
I’ve had a number of opportunities and invitations over the past three years and I’ve tried to take them all. At first, I saw doing this as a chance to take myself right outside out of my comfort zone and it really made me think about the messages that I wanted to get across. Whilst it seemed important to have an idea of what I wanted to talk about and a way of getting there (ugh, the slides…the slides), what I was really getting out of it was a more carefully crafted, sense checked message to take back into my organisation.
It’s hard sometimes to get perspective on something you’re so close to. Taking the time to think about the best way to translate the work you do, or the project you’re running for an audience who have no expectation beyond you being engaging and interesting, can be massively beneficial to your own understanding of what it is that you do and how you go about doing it.
I’ve used this focusing of message to good effect. Not only do I think I’m more convincing and able to explore more angles when having internal conversations about online and social communication, but it has also enabled me to challenge the attitude of more senior stakeholders by saying, “you know, I was presenting at a major HR technology conference and they were really impressed with what we’re doing at Grant Thornton.”
In fact just recently, in looking at my role and how it needs to evolve again, I’ve started to use the external interest in what we’re doing with social media to draw attention to the fact that internally we still have work to do. Speaking at external events gives me ammunition and gravitas to say, “look, this stuff is increasingly important and still needs to be taken seriously.”
However the major thing about events is the opportunity to talk to your peers. I won’t call it networking here because that word still strikes fear into my heart. It’s more about listening to and asking questions of people who do similar roles to you in other organisations. I’m a massive fan of the unconference approach for this very reason; giving people the opportunity to set and lead the agenda or engage and contribute as they see fit. It takes away the pressure of the coffee break and connects people so much better. How often do you get to have a really good natter with people who share your challenges?
So what’s the message? Why do I speak at events?
- There is clearly awareness value to my organisation and brand and whilst sometimes it’s low key, the value of having our name out on social media channels and in event write ups is exceptional.
- It’s personal brand building. As comms pros we can be somewhat apologetic in approach. Get out there and share the hard work you’re doing. Someone will get value out of hearing how you overcame your challenges and it may lead to an invitation to Vegas!
- Ultimately though it helps breed confidence in your work, your message and how you convey that message. The brand wins, you win and you’ll ultimately find you become a better communicator for putting yourself out there.