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Thursday, February 13, 2020

How to Create Confident Public Relationships

The Academy Awards is always such a TV viewing highlight for me. I love the glamour of the red carpet, guessing who will win the top awards, the entertainment and the speeches. Showbiz intrigues me, no doubt like so many of you. I am also intrigued by what makes one person become a leading superstar and yet another equally talented fails to succeed.

How to Create Confident Public Relationships

It’s the same really in any industry and for anyone who may be following a corporate career or on the entrepreneurial path. There isn’t any short, secret formula but I believe one aspect of success is creating confident personal and professional relationships. For movie stars (and you) our relationships include the people we work with or for and our fans and all the influencers who we come across either in real life or virtually.

In my last blog I wrote about the A and B (appearance and behaviour) of presence. Does Executive Presence Give you the Executive Edge?

This week we look at the C of communication and the D of your digital communication.

Every contact, every touch point such as e-mail, voicemail, phone calls you make, and your social media footprint creates impressions that build your brand and image.

As business professionals we can spend just about all day at our desk without actually saying a word to anyone. Yes, we are communicating – however, it seems that most communication is online.

Are we in danger of losing that ease of just chatting to someone, having a conversation, or more importantly putting our point of view across in an engaging manner? Perhaps we haven’t quite come to that scenario yet as many of us are busy constantly setting up appointments, meeting new clients, networking and making connections with a number of new people.

Effective communication is important when building relationships with clients, potential clients or customers, colleagues and also the media. A stimulating conversation or well-told story may be the most interesting part of a meeting, presentation or media interview. Even witty small talk with a potential client can evolve into a new business deal or project.

Here are a few communication and conversation pointers to keep in mind.

A first impression that invokes confidence always includes your best communication tool; your smile. Steady and direct eye contact is also great for connection.

Connection and communication is also about listening – giving others your undivided attention. In conversation it is important to ask questions but also really listen to the answer. The 80/20 rule applies. You do 80 percent of the listening and just 20 percent of the talking. Most people will think you’re a great conversationalist if you let them do most of the talking.

Listen closely and think before you speak. Don't interrupt, let the other person finish their thought before you make your comment.

Listen attentively, make good eye contact, smile and of course laugh along with their witty small talk.

Before going to an event, business or social, be prepared to discuss items of current interest including books, films, television shows, or current events.

You can find your next conversation starter by reading at least one daily newspaper, weekly news magazine, or watching a morning news show.

Practice the five words that help create and maintain small talk conversation Who, What, When, Where and Why to form open-ended questions.

Beware of being a pushy promoter. We’re often so passionate and excited about our business or latest project that we talk too much and over sell ourselves.

Take the time to get to know others first. People don't care about you and what you do until they know you care about them. Build relationships and trust first.

In my experience of working in celebrity branding and publicity, not all “stars” are great communicators or “absolutely fabulous”. However, for the majority of us, if we want to get ahead it does pay to create a good first impression.

Is your body language and non-verbal communication such as eye contact and handshake supporting you or subtracting from your essence?

Does your Digital Footprint Display Your Personal Best?

Your digital footprint and social media profile are often the first impression a person makes about you. It is built online and the best way to check that online presence is to google yourself. Did you just do that? What comes up?

Once a first impression is formed it can be hard to change. Yes, it could be through your appearance, behaviour or communication which I’ve already highlighted. Increasingly it is now about the D – your digital footprint.

When people meet you for the first time it might not be the same as what they think from viewing you online. They will most likely believe the online version. For better or for worse.

Some people paint an unrealistic image of who they really are with carefully crafted social personas. Others don’t give it much thought and perhaps an unwanted presence is displayed. If you think about it, when someone googles you they are evaluating you.

You need to align your real world brand with virtual brand. The first thing you need to consider – is what is it about you or your personal or business brand that you want to say? Your online presence reflects who you are; your values, beliefs, ambitions and the business culture you are in. Search yourself and make sure your online image reflects what you want it to.

No doubt you have done some online research about another person before a meeting or going for a job interview. Of course, they are doing the same to you. They may want to hire you for a project, join their board, be on a panel session, or give a speech. They will look at your LinkedIn page, check out your website if you have one and look to see what kind of posts you make on Facebook.

When I was going for a corporate account a while ago, I googled everything about the CEO such as images and news stories, so I could find out about the person. Not just what was on the company website and company profile, but I did the background research about who that person was.

I also wanted a visual image in my mind – so it felt familiar – not just going into to a meeting cold. Some of the character of that person came through and I felt a bit more relaxed and gained further insight into whether I could or wanted to work with this person.

Not everyone has a strong digital footprint but it is good to be aware of what is out there. It is important to check what others are posting about you, check photos and tags and always approve posts before they appear randomly online.

If you do have a Facebook personal page, ensure you have your privacy settings on so you are not sharing publicly. Keep private posts for family and friends. But do keep it professional and sensible as those Saturday night party snaps of you having a few (too many) drinks could be around a long time.

Anything you post (and are tagged in) on social media reflects your brand image. You want to share your personality but the positive side of you. In business everything you do and communicate creates impressions.

Do you want to know more about personal and professional public relations? Sign up for my monthly newsletter Shine Communique.

Sue Currie is a speaker and the author of IMPRESSario, Present and Promote the Star Within You. She is recognised as a leading authority on personal and professional PR to boost image, profile, brand and business. Through her professional development and profile building programs, workshops, consulting and keynote presentations, Sue helps businesses and entrepreneurs position and present an influential professional brand.

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