Slack Me Your Brand
As a new way of working has settled in for companies, Slack, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, Viber, Lark and dozens of instant messaging (IM) channels have taken hold as an easy and efficient way of communicating with each other throughout the day. And that’s why we’re often asked:
Can your personal brand take shape on an IM channel?
The simple answer is yes, and I think it’s happened over and over again as managers have become more dependent on the channels.
- Similar to meetings, people who monopolize a channel can seem like “know it all’s” and come across as arrogant.
- Similar to meetings, people who don’t contribute and remain silent can come across as uninvolved or unsure.
People who offer guidance seem helpful. People who are long-winded seem scattered. There’s a lot of similarity between in-person impressions and IM impressions.
If you’ve doubled your use of it, then you’ve probably also raised your awareness of what people like in this format and what they don’t. Cut and pasting information vs a link is frowned upon because it takes up a lot of space. Short sound bites are valued, keeping the chat informal and to the point.
But the flow of communication is more transactional. It’s tied to task and inputs and less to connection and touch points. As we’ve asked people about their experiences with IM channels, some say that they notice wit and humor in co-workers’ personalities as they add a little levity to a stream of inputs. And in many cases, it‘s a few personalities that come through an uneven representation of all personalities in the chat.
And that’s when the question should really become: Are IM channels enough of an impression? And that answer is probably not. Chat and short form conversations are best used as a supplement to live conversations, not a replacement for them.
True connection requires a response from someone. People have found some connections with each other on IM channels, but they tend to align with people who think just like them or agree with them, rather than a different perspective or different approach.
It’s harder to work through differences without true connection and non-verbal signals from each other. Engagement is still about give and take and that means a live conversation with a view of the other person.
And when engagement hasn’t really occurred, we don’t get as vested in each other. And that may mean we don’t promote each other as much as we could. We’re not as likely to call out someone’s effort or even fully notice it. And we’re already seeing some consequences from the limited communication channel.
The biggest consequence is employees and managers don’t know each other very well. Future opportunities come from expanded conversations and a more relaxed connection with a manager.
An employee can become somewhat invisible if they don’t have a regular cadence of face-to-face connections. When relationships are limited, trust can’t develop as it has in the past.
So, what do you do to strengthen your brand in this new way of working?
If you’re trying to establish your brand in a company, make sure that you encourage face-to-face communication at least once a week. It doesn’t have to be in-person; it can be over a virtual network. But make sure that you become a visible presence with your manager. To succeed in a company, you’re going to need a champion. Opportunities are created by people, and managers recommend people that they know and trust. You need to make sure you’re building a relationship with a manager, more than one is even better, and not just a transactional conversation.
If you’re managing people in a virtual setting, remember that people tend to stay at organizations because of their connection to other people. If you allow a team to work too independently, they never truly engage with co-workers and they seek connection somewhere else. Impose the face-to-face interaction among the team. If they never get together in the same location, you’ll have to work harder to initiate relationships across the group. You can do this with small group projects, pairing team members together for new ideas or solutions, and adding intention to discussions and virtual meetings so that everyone gets heard across your team.
Impressions take shape in all formats, so your brand does take shape across IM channels. But it’s not enough to build relationships that will lead to opportunities.
There’s a reason that leaders at most companies are saying “come back in the office” and “we miss seeing you around here.” They know that those virtual impressions only take connection so far. And as we’re all working to find the right balance of virtual, in-person and hybrid working, it will take a little more intention on the connection side to make sure that trust continues to grow with managers and teams.
If you’re trying to strengthen the connection and value within your team, we can help. Through team building experiences or work on personal brands, we’ve helped many groups reset and rethink how they work together. And we’d welcome the opportunity to explore what your team might need.
Want a free 15-minute consultation with us to see how we can help you or your leaders? Book a call now!