By Russell Trahan
Throughout the business landscape, countless days and hours are spent on the hiring process – rifling through resumes, conducting phone and in-person interviews, and vetting potential hires – and for good reason. Payroll budgets only contain so much flexibility for hiring new employees, and selecting the correct individual to fill an open position involves much more than just ensuring their competence in the role. Your new employee is also joining the best weapon in your company-wide publicity arsenal: your staff.
Selecting your staff should go beyond just the tangible skills they bring to the call center or office and their ability to complete projects and achieve goals during the workday; it should also include their talent for recruiting and driving business when the day is done. Employees – present and future – should be trained to recognize the value of out-of-office networking skills and practices, because even simple interactions after-hours or on the weekends could potentially engage new customers or patients.
This is the reason that you, as a manager, should consider the people you employ an essential component to any of your publicity efforts. They are often your establishment’s first impression and top recruiting asset within the call center as well as once they stop working.
There are multiple best practices for instilling a sense of off-the-clock commitment in employees, and utilizing them to foster a sense of organizational pride will enhance your efforts to bolster your organization’s image. Online, in-person, and over-the-phone, your staff should recognize their value both at work and away from the office.
The Social Ovation: Incalculable business relationships are now created and nurtured in the social media stratosphere, and acuity in this area can be an accurate barometer for real-world success. Along with your organization’s online presence and activity, your staff can boost your impact in the social media arena by broadcasting companywide or individual accomplishments from their personal profiles. This can be as simple as a sharing a blog post a staff member is particularly proud of or garnered an extensive degree of attention, or that promotes any sponsored events or appearances.
Client or customer bases can be developed through your employees’ relationships, especially if they are pleased with their individual contributions and the level of work coming out of your offices. Regularly recognize and applaud your employees’ performance in the office, and they may be encouraged to share it out of the office, chiefly on their social media platforms. A fulfilled employee is an employee that enthusiastically wants to share both his or her own achievements – and yours.
Word-of-mouth is often the most powerful form of promotion or advertising, and your staff can be the premier vehicle for this type of reputation advancement.
The Business Card Is Timeless: There is no action in the business world more common than the time-honored tradition of exchanging business cards. Even with a shift toward Internet-centricity and networking, every executive, director, and manager still carries business cards, and these should also contain their array of online links and contact information. Consider providing business cards to call center supervisors and agents, too.
Employers should encourage staff to keep a few cards on hand at all times. Any chance interaction outside of the workplace can quickly shift into a professional conversation, and a casual swap of business cards Saturday night may result in a new connection Monday morning. Many things change in the business environment, but the business card is a timeless object that remains a fundamental networking component.
Maintaining a Convention Game Face: Regardless of your organization’s focus, chances are you will, at some point, have staff representatives attend a conference or convention on your organization or call center’s behalf. Effectively working a booth is an imperative skill employees need to possess to ensure that you receive a tangible return on your sponsorship investment.
Part of making attendance at a corporate convention a fruitful experience is the overall demeanor exhibited inside the booth, as well as at conference events. Your employees should understand the value of simple, conversational engagement with those who stop by the booth; not everyone will want to secure your services, but they should all be treated as valuable contacts. A smile and a simple acknowledgement of passersby can be the easiest route to increased booth traffic and solid sales leads at the events’ conclusion.
Email Etiquette Has No Day Off: With the culture of connectedness ushered in by the widespread adoption of laptops, tablets, and smartphones, employees are now within reach at all hours of the day and every day of the week.
When receiving work-related emails or text correspondence while away from the office, staff should be remain aware that in-house etiquette still applies; they should not allow themselves to slip into casual text-speak or tone as they might on their day off. Improper email decorum is an immediate strike against company credibility, so make sure you instill in your workforce the importance of proper electronic communication.
Your service is only as good as the people you employ. When your staff realize and appreciate their value to your operation and the role they play in actively promoting it, the more cognizant they become of their actions when they leave the workplace. When you impress upon your staff their influence on overall accomplishments, you create a workplace culture of collective input and shared success.
When employees realize their fundamental position in your organization, they ardently become an extension of your publicity undertakings, and they will make a point to contribute even when they are away from the workplace.
Russell Trahan is president of PR/PR, a boutique public relations agency specializing in positioning clients in front of their target audience in print and online. PR/PR represents experts of all kinds who are seeking national exposure for their business or organization. Russell and PR/PR will raise your business’ awareness in the eyes of your clients and customers. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.
[From the June/July 2014 issue of AnswerStat magazine]