Who are you and what do you do? We thought it fitting to introduce this article from our archives as the top story on the PRI Works blog because it expresses timely and sound business guidance from PRI’s founder, Rich Mansfield. Rich examines the importance of how businesses, like people, need to communicate their added value to customers with clarity and without hesitation.
You get asked that question all the time. It's usually the third or fourth—if not the first—question when you first meet someone. Not a big deal, just part of the getting-to-know-you process.
However, for many of us, the conditioned response of a title (SVP, Marketing) or function (I make sure the computers don't break) or industry (Plastics) may leave us feeling like we haven't quite done ourselves justice.
We don't often have the time to tell people about our jobs. Even some of our close colleagues may not understand our day-to-day activities. Heck, you might not even understand what you do! This is a shame, because what you do for a living is a big part of who you are. Unfortunately many of us don't make the time, or develop the patience, to think and talk about what we really do at work. As a result, we often fail to be recognized for our value to the work effort. We miss opportunities to improve our performance through understanding and professional feedback. We are passed over for promotion or, worse, "right sized."
But the employee who rises in an organization is often very good at thinking and talking about what he does. He has learned to communicate his value to other team members and to position his and his colleague’s contributions firmly in the framework of the organization's mission. He is accordingly sought after as a leader and agent of positive outcomes.
Companies are like people. Some clearly communicate their value and success, and some do not. The ones that do certainly increase the rate of their successes more readily than those that do not. Companies that work to craft and maintain plain and consistent messages that accurately reflect the mission, purpose, and demonstrated successes of their enterprise to persons who are most likely to benefit from those messages are well on the way to winning the respect, attention, and business of their target markets.
That sounds great; so why doesn't everybody do it?
Well, probably for the same reason every employee doesn't like to toot his own horn. Misguided modesty? Too busy doing real work? Everybody knows already? Too complicated to tell it right. It's not really that big of a deal? It's in the job description?
Balderdash! The real reason for lack of communication usually resides in ignorance, fear, and apathy. Lack of communication often betrays a lack of enthusiasm. Lack of enthusiasm is ultimately the death knell of a career or a company.
What do you do? What does your company do? Who are your customers, and how do you help them become successful? The answers to these questions must be continually examined and reexamined by upper management and then clearly and consistently communicated down the line in presentations, telephone calls, websites, newsletters, advertisements, marketing collateral, mailings, and even invoices. Also, at every point of contact with stakeholders, including investors, customers, employees, and the general public.
Business communications is telling people what you do, as an employee and as a company. It's well worth the effort to tell it right. When stakeholders fully understand your mission and experience, they then know how best to participate in the continuing story of your success.