Are you new to the world of internal communication? Welcome, you’ve made an excellent career choice.
If you’re just starting out, I have news of a brand new network from the Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC) to help you learn, meet peers and get up to speed quickly on what and who you need to know.
I wish this existed back in 2003 when I moved from Journalism to IC, it’s such a smart idea. The network helps practitioners with less than three years’ experience discover more about internal communication.
Having heard about the initiative, I invited FutureNet committee member Rachel Bowyer, (pictured), Communications Lead at DS Smith Plc, to write for the All Things IC blog to tell us more.
She’s here to give us the inside scoop into what’s going on, what the network aims to do and how you can get involved.
Rachel is in her third internal communication role and has experience of strategy creation, event planning, filming and writing. Before that she taught English in Asia for four years and says: “That’s where I found my love of creativity, engagement and planning. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I’d discovered the perfect mix for IC!”
Well done IoIC and the FutureNet committee for volunteering your time and efforts to benefit practitioners.
Further reading on the All Things IC blog: How to start working in internal communication.
I’ll hand you over to Rachel Bowyer…
Calling all new internal communicators
FutureNet is the first network of its kind, created by the Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC) to help new(ish) professionals in the industry improve their support network, professional development and skills. Both FutureNet and the FutureNet committee are made up of professionals with 0-3 years’ experience in communications.
Being part of FutureNet offers all members a unique perspective on the profession, as we’re all there to learn from each other and gain new skills as the group establishes itself.
Fortunately, we have the steer of the IoIC to ensure our (sometimes grand) plans are achievable and to support us in getting them going.
A helping hand
In most good “fake it ‘til you make it” stories, there’s often a helpful friend or colleague to take you under their wing until you’ve come out the other side – successful, confident and raring to go.
But what if you haven’t got that helping hand at work? In two out of my three roles, I have been in a Comms team of one, trying to teach myself but a lot of the time just trying to do a decent job. I’ve learned a lot, sometimes from colleagues, sometimes from books and often from mistakes.
What I wish I had known then could probably fill a book rather than a blog post, but I’m still learning something new every day.
Three years in, I understand enough to know I still have things to learn, but can also teach others. Sometimes you need a safe network of people who you feel are your equals professionally and are going through the same experiences as you.
If newcomers to the industry know that FutureNet exists, they’ll be starting a few steps ahead of where I did.
I joined FutureNet after my professional mentor (through IoIC) pointed it out to me. Following that, I applied to join the committee to be actively involved, rather than waiting for interesting events to land in my inbox.
(I’m an IoIC mentor and thoroughly enjoy it. Do keep an eye the IoIC website to see when the next round of matching is happening – Rachel).
The first committee meeting was enthusiastic, supportive and we came up with lots of exciting ideas.
(You can find out more about the ace committee members via the IoIC website, I’ve pictured them above – Rachel).
Our expectations of the network are broad and will evolve as we learn what members want and need:
- There will be a mix of learning and networking events; some regional, some digital.
- We want to learn from each other, to understand what other companies are doing well, and for the network to be a safe place to test ideas with peers and work together on the skills we need to progress.
- We want to create a “library” of best practice templates, so if you need to write a strategy or make an infographic, there is a curated resource to help you.
- We want to hear not just from the super successful stars of IC, but also from mid-level IC professionals who can guide us in our next steps.
- It is important that we help to make IC a career of choice, with a clear career path. We want to attend graduate fairs to increase awareness of the industry and to encourage people to actively join the profession.
Who is FutureNet for?
FutureNet isn’t about age; it’s not only for 21-year-olds fresh out of uni or under 30s taking on their first comms roles.
It’s for anyone, anywhere, who has less than three years’ experience and would like to be part of a supportive, informative community. Just as my mentor saw it and thought of me, perhaps you could tell someone you know who might benefit from being part of it too.
The first in a series of FutureNet events created by and for newcomers to internal communications will be held on 5 June 2018. Both the event and network are free to all IoIC members with less than three years’ experience in internal communications.
For more information on FutureNet or if you would like to contribute to future events, please contact email@example.com
Post author: Rachel Bowyer. @Rachel_Bowyer1
Thank you Rachel. Do contact her or the committee via the email above if you’d like to get involved. You can find the event on 5 June in my events calendar.
Annual IoIC conference
We’re only a few weeks away from the annual Institute of Internal Communication conference in Birmingham. It’s a packed agenda and looks set to be an excellent couple of days of learning and discovering new ideas.
I’m proud to be speaking on 10 May and sharing thoughts on reputation, personal branding and my belief that what happens inside is reflected outside.
Regular readers of my blog will know that one of my three-year-old twin sons had a heart operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital in December 2017. As a result, I declined every conference speaking opportunity over the past two years to focus solely on him and the unpredictability of his medical appointments.
The only conference I spoke at during that time was EuroComm from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) last March in London. So I’m looking forward to returning to doing what I love and being amongst IoIC friends, clients and practitioners in Birmingham next month.
It’s a packed agenda with some excellent stories being shared. See the IoIC website to save your place and book your ticket. Do let me know if you’re going and say hello.
Learn about internal communication
If you are new to internal communication, I have just the course for you. I’m running my next Internal Communication Masterclass on 27 September 2018 in London. It’s a safe space and a small group where you can come and ask questions, get advice and meet peers.
What you can expect? The IC Masterclass I ran in March 2018 is pictured below:
It’s suitable if you have been working in IC for up to five years and would like to refresh your skills and boost your confidence. If you’ve never studied comms theory, it will help you. I’ve also had Comms Directors attend this Masterclass when they’ve suddenly found themselves responsible for internal communication.
It costs £599 +VAT per person to attend a Masterclass and if you’re a CIPR or IoIC member or nonprofit organisation, you can save 20%. See my Masterclasses website for more info. I’d love you to join me.
What’s it like to attend the Internal Communication Masterclass?
“The All Things IC Comms Masterclass was spot on for re-invigorating my passion for internal communications and providing a toolkit of great ideas and approaches to implement back in the office. The best part was spending time with like-minded comms professionals sharing ideas and experiences. I thoroughly recommend to anyone working in comms new or old to sign up to one of Rachel’s classes – plus she provides fab goodie bags!!” – Becky Wren, Marketing Manager, Screwfix.
Thank you Becky. What’s it like to study theory in the IC Masterclass?…
“Rachel’s IC knowledge is immense, and she’s incredibly generous with it. The Masterclass was well structured and interesting, with a good mix of theory and practical skills. I left full of ideas, with a reading and action list I’m looking forward to getting stuck into. Thanks Rachel!” – Lindsay Narey, Communications Executive, Metropolitan.
If you’re looking for ideas, see my list of 31 recommended books to read to learn about communication.
I came away completely buzzing with inspiration and ideas and happy that I’d had the space to take a step back and think creatively about what we’re doing and why. Having time to think and reflect always feels like a bit of a luxury but it’s so important. Thank you Rachel for a brilliant day. – Alison Robinson, Internal Communications Officer, Birketts LLP
If you are an IoIC or CIPR member, you can earn CPD (Continuing Professional Development) points while you learn. Don’t forget to log your learning after the Masterclass. You will receive a certificate on the day to prove your attendance.
Seven ways to learn more about the internal comms industry
- Research: Gatehouse Group published its 10th annual State of the Sector results recently. See Jenni Field’s blog for an overview.
- Jobs market: Keep an eye on comms recruiters like VMA Group, Ellwood Atfield,Comms Leaders and FEEL Communications to see the types of roles they are advertising. What are the rates? What’s the average? What skills are people looking for? I also publish roles via my jobs board.
- Global comms: If you want to learn more about global communications, check out IC Kollectif, IABC, Global Alliance, PR Conversations, EACD, Ragan and IPR. See AMECfor measurement info.
- Podcasts: I love listening to podcasts and recommend ICology with Chuck Gose, For Immediate Release podcast network with Shel Holtz, CSuitepodcast, Paul Sutton’s podcast and Talking Comms with Adrian Stirrup. I also listen to entrepreneur and PR podcasts including Chris Ducker, Pat Flynn, Janet Murray, Carrie Green and JLD.
- Join membership bodies such as the Institute of Internal Communication, CIPR Insidefrom the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, PRCA or IABC.
- Read: There are so many specialist publications. Check out Communicate Magazine, PRWeek, Corp Comms Magazine, Marginalia, Voice from IoIC, PR Place from Richard Bailey, and Influence from CIPR. I’ve also published a list of 31 books to read to learn about communication..
- Use social media: There’s a large community of in-house comms pros online. Come and join me over at The IC Crowd on Twitter @theiccrowd alongside my fellow co-founders Jenni Field and Dana Leeson. It’s a global community of comms pros. We’re also bringing back The Big Yak unconference for in-house comms pros to network and learn together. It’s on 9 June 2018 in London – see @theiccrowd and www.thebigyak.co.uk for more info. The final batch of tickets are being released on Monday 14 May 2018. I also Tweet @AllthingsIC and use LinkedIn to connect and share ideas with fellow communicators globally.
Further reading via the All Things IC blog
- How to start working in internal communication.
- How PR students can get a job in IC
- How to work as a Communication Consultant – getting started.
- Five things I wish I knew when starting out – by Advita Patel.
Thank you for stopping by. As ever, you’re welcome to comment below on what you’ve read or you can find me on Twitter @AllthingsIC.
First published on the All Things IC blog 19 April 2018.