Entrepreneur and founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely, was listed as the 93rd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.
This is what she posted recently on her Instagram account:
Sara Blakely owns her story. And she also reveals her secret to us: She listened to herself. Because this is has been the foundation for every step throughout her career.
The same rule should work for you: Own your story first, and then go in to your external communications. It is like building a campaing or a PR strategy for your comoany. In the beginning it is all very exciting for sure: you see endless possibilities, visualise leads coming in and then converting. More often than not, you will be picturing your success before you even set pen to paper to define your goal. And that’s not wrong per se, but it should not be the first step you ever take when embarking in the glorious task of promoting your personal brand. I often find myself having to ask my clients to rein in their enthusiasm and take a step back, before they can broadcast their message to the world. What is missing from this picture, I hear you ask? Two words: internal communication. If your tone and strategy for communicating your personal brand are not on point, your marketing campaign won’t be either. That’s just a fact of life. Trust me on this one.
1. Internal communications helps you lay the foundations of concise and clear external communication
Have you ever heard that trite emotional platitude about not being able to love others, unless you learn how to love yourself first? As cringe-worthy as it may sound, that holds truer for brand communication than it does for personal relationships. If you can’t put down into words who you are and why you matter for your own inner team to see and understand, you won’t be able to communicate that to the world at large and – more importantly – to your target audience. If you are not clear about it, they won’t get it. If they don’t get it, it won’t be memorable. If it isn’t memorable, they will ignore it and keep scrolling.
2. Internal communications helps you step out of the comfort zone
Platitude number two: if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you will only get to where you have already been. Or something to that effect. Good communication requires you to be open to having difficult conversations and testing your limits. Staying in your comfort zone is not an option in today’s world. And if you can’t get out of your comfort zone when communicating with your target group, your marketing strategy will inevitably reflect that conservative approach. Think of it as trying to win a race while obsessively pulling at your hand brake. Does that sound like a good idea? I don’t think so.
3. Internal communications helps you see the big picture, when it comes to your personal brand
During the first year of the pandemic, our whole way of working has changed. You probably haven’t been connecting with an audience that proved to be more diverse and focused than ever. You might have been asked to introduce yourself quickly to an ever-changing Zoom community, having to elevator-pitch yourself to them again and again, in excruciating 5-minute instalments. And yes, that was exactly as stressful and pointless as it sounds. Did anything come from it? Again, I didn’t think so.
What could you have done better? If you have been reading this blog for a while, you might venture a guess. Owning your story is the only way to communicate yourself clearly. In the words of Cato the Elder, Rem tene, verba sequentur. Which translates as “if you know the subject, the words will follow”. And you would be astonished to discover how many people have no grasp whatsoever of the subject, when the subject happens to be their own story, brand, value and personality.
And if we extend this concept to companies and businesses, it becomes clear that the only way to achieve this is by getting everyone involved. Your marketing department can’t be the be all and end all of your communication strategy. You need to involve all of your departments of your inner team in the process: HR, finance, management. The whole team should be on board and know what the core message is. Getting a more holistic view of the things that matter to you and your personal brand is the way forward. You should use your internal communications to give every narrative a voice and connect the dots of your career story.
4. Internal communication can help you build a comprehensive communication strategy
The primary role of internal communication is to help make your mindset manifest. If thoroughly thought-through, your internal communication strategy will make your career story shine. If you do it poorly, you will stay in your comfort zone which, as we have already discussed, if narrower and far less comfortable than you’d expect.
After all, each announcement, message, news update, or CEO blog article plays a role in how your team interprets the cultural landscape of your organization: what it stands for, who it values, why its mission matters. Your company culture is more than the sum of its parts, and good internal communication takes this into account.
In fact, your mindset should really be at the forefront of your internal communication strategy: it should be built into the messaging, the tone, the back and forth discussion, the news that’s shared and omitted. Your mindset should guide your internal communication and vice versa. Why? Because the time for apologising and feeling like an impostor is over.
5. Good internal communication can prevent you from getting too bored with yourself
A multiple-layer conversation should be one of your internal communication strategy’s main goals. Come on, it’s 2021. The coming of age of generalists. Specialists are no longer ruling the world, at least not in every department. Our disrupted world opened new horizons for career paths and work philosophy.
Get rid of the targeted messaging based on what your audience wants and foster thoughtful, interactive conversations that promote engagement.
Each of your narrative matters, you put work in it, be good to yourself and brag about your achievements.
6. Internal communication helps you keep your cool in a crisis.
Things don’t always run smoothly. You can get hit by a pandemic and have your entire world capsize overnight. This is when you need solid internal communication most. You need to take extra care of yourself.
Being transparent about what went down, who was affected, how they were taken care of, and what this means for the organization requires a delicate tone and complete transparency, especially in the case of layoffs. People will have questions and the way you answer those questions will remain in your team’s minds for a long time to come.
Use internal communication to deal with every tricky or controversial situation and, I promise you, you’ll reap your rewards in terms of work environment, because you will have fostered an open and caring atmosphere that can help sustain your organization through tough times.
Besides, your inner team will respect you for telling the truth and trusting them. This is one of the most crucial aspects of internal communication and it demonstrates why neglecting it can quickly turn your own team against owning your story.
For all the above reasons, internal communication should be the first tool you turn to, when getting back control over your narrative. If you haven’t thought about your internal communication yet, I recommend reaching out to me. It’s a good start for implementing your messaging more effectively and goes into detail about how to make sure yor communication strategy projects your identity and your core values in the most authentic and effective way possible. Being aware of how your message is coming across will change the way you communicate with your colleagues and your employees, helping you take back control of your own narrative as it reaches your target audience.