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I’m sharing some advice for a career in communications as part of the second #CommsCreative challenge: to blog useful tips for other communicators (read more about the challenge here).

I’m now old enough to have enough bags of experience to fill all of Louis Vuitton’s shops.

I started as a press officer, took on more general comms roles, then I went into social media and website management, did my CIPR Diploma and got super strategic, and now I teach other communicators how creatively improve the effectiveness of their comms.

Here’s what I learned along the way.

Read, watch, listen and scroll

If you want to be good at comms, be a consumer.

I’ve met so many people who ask for advice on strategy and creating engaging content, for say Twitter or Linkedin, who don’t actually use it much personally.

If you understand how YOU react to content online, you’re at least one step nearer to being able to create something others will react to (and not scroll past).

Live in the place you’re communicating in.

You can learn French from a book, but living in France will help you REALLY speak French. It’s immersive education.

Same goes for your comms.

Networking = making friends

When I started out, the idea of going to a conference and ‘making contacts’ felt unnatural, intimidating and beyond my social skills.

And today, nothing has changed.

I used to think networking meant you boost your career by finding the important people, and getting them do something you want. You talk to them and then one day they give you a job, invest in you or whatever.

But no. The people who do that kind of networking do exist, but that’s not my style. I do not excel at that whole on-the-spot elevator-pitch thing.

But I HAVE had big career boosts from making friends, not contacts.

I’ve chatted about common interests to lovely people on Twitter, supported their work and commented on their blog posts, and made online and real-world friends this way.

Loads of these people have gone on to be my clients.

I made friends with one of my favourite buddies, Esko, way before I realised his way of thinking, and the events we went to, were inspiring new ideas, and all his advice is invaluable.

Jess, Asif, Philippa, Emma, Ben, Eddie, Christine – the list goes on and on.  My pals first, work stuff a bonus extra.

So don’t worry if you’re not a natural schmoozer – just build rapport with people you have common interest with.

Make friends not contacts.

Remember how good the job is

We’re not working down the mines.

We have a job that lets us exercise our writing muscles, allows us to be creative if we’re super lucky, and it beats selling gas and electric door-to-door, punching boring data into spreadsheets, or pulling pints for lecherous drunks (trust me).

Yes, the work can be hard, when you’re in a constant battle to be taken seriously, or you’ve been given a zillion tasks, and you want to do so much good stuff without the time you need to do it.

BUT – you can manage it. Some colleagues are annoying – this is the curse of working with fellow humans. Fight the battles that really matter, and try to relax about the rest of it.

Working in communications is fun! The more I remind myself of this, the more I seem to create permission for myself to enjoy myself.

What is your advice? If you want to share yours, you could try my 7 step #CommsCreative blog challenge.

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