7 Steps To Success: Communication Strategy
Don't leave your personal communication to chance. Take the time to use a personal communication strategy that leads to your success.
For personal communication strategy think personal brand. The word brand can often give the wrong impression (particularly here in the UK). Communication is easy to understand.
Just remember that communication is what people receive, not what you think you broadcast. So a good communicator is judged on the effectiveness of people getting the message you want to deliver.
Firstly understand that you already have a communication strategy. You may not have paid any attention to it but you are broadcasting all the time. So what does your strategy lead me to pick about you? What are you communicating?
If we are going to meet for the first time, I would do a quick internet search to get an idea of the sort of person I should be expecting to meet. So search on Google for your name, and what comes up is a good indication of your current communication strategy. Look through the first ten or so entries and you will grasp what others think you want to communicate about yourself.
Okay, you may not mind if I see your Facebook post about the night you got seriously drunk and danced on stage in a tutu. While this might be great for your friends, but not your next employer, or your clients.
Still not convinced? Consider your motivation to do any of the following each day:
- Comb / style your hair
- Wash / shave your face
- Wear clothes that portray your status and reputation
- Brush your teeth and have great breath
- Make sure your shoes reinforce your image
- Be positive, professional and courteous around your colleagues and clients
Apart from some being just good hygiene, each of the above is the standard that you want to communicate to others. You want to make a great impression to your boss, your clients, your next employer, and your shareholders. So why would it be any different for your online communication?
What Does Your Strategy Do For You?
Worst case, your communication strategy can reveal a side to you that your boss and clients do not need to know about. People lose promotions, fail to secure new roles, and even get dismissed for their online activity. The more time you interact with the online world the more can be found out about you. Good, or bad.
Most personal communication strategies are frankly very middle of the road. People do not think about it, so it ends up being just like everyone else. They are one of the crowd and do not stand out. Imagine if your annual performance review read like that. “[Your Name] is nothing special, they do the basics, they meet expectations…adequately”. If you would be happy achieving that review stop reading now. Go and do something else!
Making A Conscious Change
Imagine if you took control of your communication strategy. What if you differentiated yourself from the competition and your communication allowed you to build trust with prospective clients and employers (now and future). This would be the kind of strategy that could propel you higher and higher.
How much time and effort would you invest to rise above the crowd? Going through a personal communication strategy exercise is relatively inexpensive, takes just a few hours, and only a little bit of thought. An afternoon and you are nearly there.
7 Simple Steps To Success
Step 1: Who Are You?
Firstly a bit of navel-gazing. Brainstorm what you really want to communicate. The more specific and tightly focussed you can be the better your result will be. Think “I am an expert…”. Nobody is an expert in everything so really focus in.
Once you have your niche consider what evidence backs up your claim. This is not a CV, so move away from qualifications. Think experience and impact.
Step 2: What Is Your Aim?
Step 2 really goes hand-in-hand with Step 1.
- If you are a new recruit you are aiming to be as wise and experienced as the best employee in your team
- For a junior in sales you will be aiming for middle management
- As head of your section, you are aiming for the boardroom
- Being the local expert consultant you are aiming for regional recognition
- Your aim is where your next serious step will take you.
Brainstorm what differentiates the next step in your career. It is not about money or status. Think about how you would do it, how you would write and talk to others, even how you would dress, and the sort of behaviour you would expect to see.
You are planning to look and behave like the best person you can imagine at the level you are aiming for. You want clients and employers to see you as having real potential for moving on.
Thinking through Step 2 really gives you the best foundation for Step 4 onwards.
Step 3: Who Is Your Audience?
The style of writing, and the media format of your communication will depend heavily on who you are communicating to.
Firstly identify one, or maybe two different audience types. Be quite specific – the whole personal branding process benefits from focussing down to quite a narrow window.
List the attributes that they would be looking for in you. Consider behaviours, dress, communication style and so on. You are planning to meet the expectations of the most demanding audience you can think of.
After Step 3 you have lots of research into where you are now, where you want to be and how you want to look once you get there. Now we get down to some communication copy.
Step 4: Write Your Bio Three Times
You are creating a media kit for your personal strategy. This will become a resource library that influences every online profile, your company website, and even the shareholder report. Imagine you need a photo and bio at short notice for a press release – no problem, you have it covered. Or perhaps, you have been appointed to the Board – be proactive and send in your bio and photos before you are asked.
Writing your bio is the first part in this step. You can get useful tips on writing your bio and what to include by following these links:
By the end of the process, you need a full, abbreviated and byline version of your bio. The most common recommendation is four paragraphs for your full bio, and 150-200 words or four sentences for your abbreviated bio. Finally, about 40 words or one sentence for your byline bio.
Think about the story you are going to tell and the language that you are going to use for your target audience.
Step 5: Create Visuals
This is where someone like me comes in. You want professional images that fit with your personal communication strategy and bio. You will be creating photos that you have to hand for press releases, reports, speaker invites and so on.
Meet with your personal branding photographer and make sure that you present yourself as you researched in step 2.
Professional images make the world of difference. Using your iPhone, or worse still, cutting out an image from your company website is a no-no.
You are looking for a simple upper body, your headshot, and a few ‘action’ shots. Read “doing what you do” instead of action. If you are planning on blogging or showcasing specific aspects of your role you will need a variety of shots to work with.
Make sure you personally have a digital copy of each image. Owning a digital copy of your image means you can send it out without contacting your photographer.
Step 6: Create Media Kit
Creating your media kit is now very straight forward. Your bio and photos go in a file you can access easily. Make a copy for home, work and leave one with your personal assistant. It has to be immediately available.
Step 7: Create Consistent presence
Your task now is to go through and refresh your current personal communication with your new and enhanced one.
Do your search again like in Step 1 and delete every negative reference you can. This can be a drawn out process depending on how you have promoted yourself until this point.
Next, use your three bio statements to give a consistent message across all of your social media. If you need Facebook for your personal life then set up a dedicated personal one with an unidentifiable name and have a separate business profile.
Finally, start seeking online endorsements from colleagues and clients to back up your personal communication strategy.
Your personal communication strategy can supercharge your career. Spend a little time getting this right and you will reap rewards almost immediately.
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