What does your organization do? And what is your role there? Can you answer each of those questions confidently in a sentence or two that most people can understand? If you can, you are communicating with ambassador status.
Each person within a business or nonprofit is potentially its ambassador. With good communication skills, each one can convey why others should know of, follow, buy from or support your organization. But I’ve noticed that too few of these “insiders” communicate like ambassadors.
Fumbling to explain
It’s ironic. People working at every level immerse themselves daily in their jobs and their organizations’ broader missions. Still, when asked to explain these, many people fumble around.
They give vague, complicated or jargon-filled answers. I’ve heard responses so meandering and detailed that they may leave listeners confused at best, tuned out at worst.
That’s one big communications breakdown.
Why achieve ambassador status?
Communicating like a true ambassador intent on building good relationships pays dividends. It has everything to do with that marketing buzz-word “brand.”
Brand is the reputation your nonprofit or business earns for the things you do and the way you do them. It’s what you want to be known for.
Do you want your organization to be known for being clear? For showing your value? For being open to what others think and need? These characteristics give your organization an attractive personality. They encourage others to engage with you.
Communicating with ambassador status builds this reputation. An ambassador uses language and context that’s meaningful to each audience. An ambassador also welcomes dialogue, formal or informal, as an opportunity to share more information and to gain understanding of others’ views.
Communicating with ambassador status can provide other benefits, too, such as:
- Finding potential customers. Conversations in all kinds of places can reveal who needs what products and services. At social events, for instance, I often talk to people interested in my professional skills. Many of them ask for my business card.
- Drawing in volunteers. You may meet a scout leader looking for a service project for kids, a recent retiree who wants to give back to the community or a business owner seeking group volunteer activities for staff.
- Discovering allies. It’s hard to make progress on big challenges when you act alone. Explain your mission well, and you may learn of individuals or groups that want to join with you on shared goals. Businesses and nonprofits, for instance, may want to partner on issues such as education, environmental action or helping people in need.
- Creating opportunities to listen and learn.You may discover perceptions about your organization or needs your group can fill. Or you may come across new ideas you can bring back to your office to make your team more effective.
Make sure your entire staff knows how to communicate with ambassador status. Tell them how you’d like your organization presented and give them opportunities to practice that message orally and in writing. Prepare them to respond with composure on issues that may be challenging. Then you’ll know your staff can represent your business or nonprofit as capable and confident ambassadors.
Mollie Katz is communications director for the Religious Coalition for Productive Choice