Getting started – IC virtual communities

Have you found yourself looking at your phone, wondering whether it was ok to publish a question out to your network on social media, asking for advice and guidance to help with a particular #internalcomms challenge? I know the feeling well and I hope this blog post helps you overcome some of your worries and offers you additional support through the Horizon Comms Guild group.

People power

Some of the best advice, support and guidance I’ve received have been through online conversations using LinkedIn and Twitter and, in most instances, with complete strangers. As you can see below, a quick search on LinkedIn shows you aren’t alone in your quest for knowledge.

Rather than jumping straight in with a question to your connections, think about the topics you have a professional interest in and follow those as a starting point. Don’t forget that you can choose to ‘follow’ someone on LinkedIn instead of connecting with them, which might be a more comfortable approach for you.

The above also applies over on Twitter although I’ve found there is a lot more content but people often respond quicker than LinkedIn so it can be useful for when you need advice a little sooner. As you can see below, I’ve used Twitter to ask for advice, especially about subjects outside of my knowledge area.

Speaking of Twitter, the @theICcrowd channel created by Jenni FieldRachel Miller and Dana Leeson offers communicators the opportunity to send a DM, containing a specific question that can be shared with over 9000 followers. You’ll then be able to see the replies and can connect with those who shared their thoughts that you might find useful. It’s also a great way to learn from others, as there might be questions you’ve never thought about asking.

There are also several internal comms focused groups on LinkedIn that can be useful places to find information, but I’ve noticed that a lot of the groups I’ve joined have very few new posts. It doesn’t mean they aren’t useful, but I would suggest just joining a few, get a sense of how active they are and if you don’t find them useful, then you can always leave them. However, any group relies on everyone to be an active participation, so perhaps do an introduction post to yourself and see where the conversation goes.

You aren’t in competition

Something shared with me when I had the same doubts as you might have about asking for help or inspiration is that we aren’t in competition with each other as internal communicators. Our colleagues in external comms are perhaps more reluctant to share information and best practice, as there is the risk that a competitor organisation could use an idea. I’ve found that the internal comms community doesn’t have this worry and is much more open to sharing experiences so we can all improve the way we communicate with our colleagues.

When I posted my first question on Twitter, asking for ideas and inspiration on how to launch a new set of company values it inundated me with responses from communicators sharing good and bad experiences. I realised then how helpful internal communication specialists are and the support that’s available when you ask.

Be a part of the conversation

I’m a firm believer that the more you put into something, the more you’ll get out of it, and this applies to online communities. Take small steps by following hashtags and joining groups to then slowly start to contribute either by sharing your thoughts and insights so other communicators can learn from your experiences.

Remember, you don’t need to disclose any information such as the specific organisation a particular piece of work relates to. You’ll soon discover that other communicators have either come up against the same challenge themselves or will appreciate you sharing your experiences with them. With each comment you make, not only will your confidence will grow but your contributions will be available for future internal professionals to learn from.

Join the Horizon Comms Guild group

I appreciate that taking your first step and publicly sharing your thoughts, opinions or asking questions can be a very daunting prospect and that’s why I set-up an online group on Guild. This is a space where anyone #NewtoIC can join, connect with other comms professionals, start new threads about a topic of their choosing and ask for advice and guidance.

To help, here are some ways you might use the Guild group:

  • Start a thread to seek the thoughts and opinions on a particular comms challenge, whether it’s just looking for tips on using a particular channel or help to get started mapping out a project.
  • Networking with comms professionals from across the globe. Guild means you can keep your professional and personal activity separate without needing to give away your phone number or email address.
  • Asking questions that your colleagues can’t see as it can feel uncomfortable posting in a public domain. This can be useful when you come across a sensitive situation involving internal stakeholders, so you won’t want people you work with to see in case they know who you’re talking about.
  • Sharing ideas to get a fresh perspective from someone unconnected with a project. This can be useful when you’ve become so involved with a task that you need a fresh viewpoint in case there is something you’ve missed or haven’t considered.

Hopefully, I’ll see you over on Guild soon or another channel like LinkedIn or Twitter soon and let me know how you’re getting on joining some of the great online discussions.

Featured image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay