Five things I wish I knew when starting out...
It’ll be 12 years this year since I started working as an Internal Communicator. I have absolutely no idea where that time has gone. Like many others I didn’t start my career as an Internal Communications professional, in fact, I don’t even think I knew such a role existed. I graduated from university with a 2.1 in IT and I had huge ambitions to take over the tech world. Sadly, the year I graduated there was a huge dot.com crash and roles were tight in the North West.
Luckily during my role as an Admissions Officer at MMU I met a fabulous Marketing Manager, who encouraged me to undertake a Masters in Strategic Marketing after she saw a newsletter I created for the faculty and the rest, as they say, is history.
There have been many highs and lows during the last 12 years but I’ve learnt quite a lot (sometimes the hard way) during this time so to mark this anniversary, I’ve pulled together five key things I wish I’d known when I started out - which I hope helps some of you in some way:
Join a professional body. I cannot emphasise this enough. Joining a professional body is literally one of the best things I’ve ever done as it really helped me develop my career further. It doesn’t matter which one as long as you join the one that is right for you and your career. I didn’t join a professional body until I was a few years into my career and I really wish I’d joined earlier. Currently I’m a member of IoIC and CIPR (where I’m currently the Vice Chair for their Internal Comms committee CIPR Inside).
Be bold. In the early days I’ve sat mute and not said anything throughout an entire meeting as I feared I wasn’t senior/experienced enough. It’s important that you push that out of your mind. Remember you’re there as the advisor and an expert so seniority shouldn’t come into play. If you have something to add then speak up and if you’re sat in a meeting longer than 10 minutes and you haven’t said anything, question why you are there.
Everyone makes mistakes. There have been many sleepless nights where I’ve laid awake worrying about a spelling mistake in a subject line or an article I had written. Was it ideal? No it wasn’t – but the world won’t stop spinning. Learn from it and move on.
Keep learning and logging CPD. This is important if you want to be seen as a Trusted Advisor within your field or organisation. You need to keep up with the latest trends and what’s happening in the world of business and comms. I recently signed up for the Internal Comms Diploma with PR Academy which is brilliant and I’ve undertaken quite a few short courses including a masterclass with IC guru Rachel Miller (you can read my write up here). However, you don’t need to commit to courses if you don’t have the time (or funds), you can read blogs, articles, books and sign up for webinars, seminars and events. I wrote a post a few weeks back on my top blogs.
Network! Not many of us have the luxury of working in a large comms team and often we find ourselves working either on our own or with a really small team. Getting out and about at various networking events will really help increase your knowledge base and you’ll also get to meet some fabulous people along the way. If you can’t get to any events then use Social Media and make the most of your network on Twitter and/or LinkedIn. CIPR Inside has quite an active feed on Twitter so come and join in!