How good are your networking skills? If you’ve been working in internal communication for a while, you may have a large network of comms pros and feel comfortable going to events.

But what if you’re new to IC? Or if the thought of going somewhere full of people you don’t know feels you with dread?

I remember feeling terrified at the start of my career at the idea of going to IC events and avoided them for years. Even as an extrovert, I found the idea overwhelming. I was worried everyone would be super knowledgeable and I’d have no one to talk to.

However, when I was brave and went for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised by how friendly practitioners were. I immediately felt at home and was made to feel welcome, and that’s continued to be the case.

This article contains guidance to help you network, plus news about an upcoming FutureNet event for practitioners who are new to internal communication.

Annual IC conference
This week the Institute of Internal Communication’s annual conference is taking place in Birmingham on 10 and 11 May 2018. I’m going to be speaking about personal branding and how what happens inside is reflected outside.

If you’re due to come, how do you feel? This article will help you think it through.

I invited Rachel Bowyer, Communications Lead at DS Smith Plc back to the All Things IC blog. She’s shared her top networking tips that you can put in practice at any events you’re planning to attend. If you want to know what’s on, do check out my events calendar.

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 where she found her love of creativity, engagement and planning. She says: “Unbeknownst to me at the time, I’d discovered the perfect mix for IC!”

You can find her on Twitter @Rachel_Bowyer1 and LinkedIn: Rachel Bowyer. You can also read more about FutureNet via the article she wrote for my blog recently ahead of the FutureNet event on 5 June..

I’ll hand you over…

Top tips for tip-top networking

If you’ve never been to an IC event before and aren’t sure what to expect, here are some tips to get you started:

  • Say hello.
    Force yourself to speak to as many people as possible. Take business cards with you so people can contact you easily afterwards. Don’t be shy to follow up and suggest meeting again over a coffee. You never know when someone’s experience or connections might help you with a project or find your next job.
    (Don’t worry if you don’t have any business cards – just make sure you have a LinkedIn profile and write your name and company on a piece of paper or even in their notepad/phone so the person can find you online – Rachel).
  • Speak up.
    Remember that your work experience is as valid as everyone else’s, even if others have been working in the industry for longer. Feel free to put your point across and explain your perspective, especially if it’s different. As a supportive, learning environment, it’s the perfect place to improve your public speaking skills.
    (I couldn’t agree more with this, remember to say your name and where you work so people can find you. If this feels like a step too far, you could submit a question via polling technology if they’re using it – Rachel).
  • Be a friend.
    Comms can be a lonely place, many people work in small teams or on their own. Look for someone who is also on their own and go and say hello. It might be your first event and you feel confident and raring to go. Equally it might be their 10th event and they’re still not quite sure what to do with themselves. Help make the best possible experience for everyone, even if you’re not one of the organisers.
    (This is so important, there are plenty of places to meet at events – not least the coffee areas and even the cloakrooms. I’ve struck up many a conversation while queueing for a cup of tea. I also introduce people to each other – Rachel).
  • Take notes.
    Make sure you tell work you’re attending as it might count towards your appraisal (and for IoIC members, your CPD (continuous professional development)). Make notes about the presentations you see or people you’d like to look up afterwards. Take back what you learn and share highlights with your team, to help you focus at the event and reaffirm your own understanding by explaining it to others.
    (Great advice, you could also Tweet what you hear, write an update on LinkedIn using their publishing platform or even guest blog for All Things IC, ahem, about what we missed – Rachel).
  • Give feedback.
    The organisers want to hear views different from their own. Who would you like to hear from next time? What set up would work best for you – small groups, speed networking or a formal presentation? Put yourself in their shoes when writing feedback, what would be useful to learn and improve upon? Make the feedback thoughtful, not an after-thought.
    (Don’t forget to share what didn’t work for you. Personal bugbears for me are being hounded by companies after I’ve attended an event. Make it clear when you sign up whether you’re happy for your info to be passed on. If you’re not (particularly given GDPR), say so – Rachel).

Your invitation to FutureNet

To launch The IoIC’s FutureNet network in style, our first event is designed to make you think, be inspired and get social, all for the excellent member’s price of £0. Check your calendar – it’s in the evening on Tuesday 5 June 2018.

The brilliant Justine Stevenson, head of IC at the London Stock Exchange, will be one of our guest speakers. We would have asked her to invite CEO David Schwimmer along for some celeb selfies, but then we realised he’s not that David Schwimmer.

We also have Glenn Elliott, author of Build It: The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement.

With years of experience working with over 2,000 organisations, Glenn will share his secrets for engaging employees. It seems that a little bit of disruption goes a long way.

Afterwards, we’ll be hosting a get-together in a nearby pub to give you a chance to meet the other members and get to know more about each other.

For those of you who can’t attend, or aren’t eligible for FutureNet (too experienced, but interested!), we’ll be Tweeting on the day and you can catch up with what happened on our blog, which is also launching soon.

You can follow IoIC on Twitter @ioicnews.

A little more about FutureNet

Since announcing the FutureNet network at the beginning of 2018, we’ve been overwhelmed with the enthusiasm and support that we’ve received from both members and other professionals in the IC world.

It’s an exciting time in communications, the industry is changing as are the people joining the profession.

Who’s it for?
The FutureNet network is a free benefit to all IoIC members who have less than three years’ experience in internal communication.

Non-IoIC members are also welcome to attend the event on  5 June for £10, if they have less than three years’ experience in the industry.

If you have any questions about FutureNet, the event or you would like to contribute to future events, please email futurenet@ioic.org.uk.

Post author: Rachel Bowyer.

Thank you Rachel. What do you think of what you’ve read? As ever, you’re welcome to comment below or you can find Rachel on Twitter @Rachel_Bowyer1.

If you are looking to grow your network, don’t forget the final batch of tickets for The Big Yak unconference I’m hosting alongside my fellow The IC Crowd co-founders are released on Monday 14 May. See www.thebigyak.co.uk for full information and set a reminder for 9.30am. You can find us on Twitter @TheICCrowd.

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.

My day-long courses have been designed to provide a safe place where you can learn, ask questions and boost your confidence. See my Masterclasses page to find out more and book your place.

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

CPD
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.

First published on the All Things IC blog 7 May 2018.

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