How are you making a difference?

Your work is making a difference for someone. I know it is, because my work makes a difference too. 

You have stories in what you're doing, even if you don't yet realize it. I bet you tell your stories when you go home in the evenings, or when you're visiting with friends. If you truly don't, then why are you doing what you do?

Stories are a bridge that create a connection. In the telling, you can provide information about what you do, why you do it, the outcomes you anticipate, and the kinds of problems you can help solve.

How does a story make a difference?

What you have to say can make a difference in numerous ways:

  • Inspire ideas,
  • Spur action,
  • Provide help,
  • Incite understanding,
  • Solve problems.

These are the things I love about the work I do. What do you love about your work? That's probably one area where you're making a difference. 

Find stories to tell

Think about a time you got excited about your work. Maybe a client or customer showed appreciation for you leading them to something they needed. Maybe it's a product. Maybe it's an idea. Maybe they didn't even know they would find it helpful! 

Tell your stories

I see friends with businesses tell stories about breakthroughs with their clients every day. In fact, while I was in the middle of writing this post, one of my clients sent this in an email to me:

I didn’t even know that was do-able! You teach me something new every day.

That kind of feedback is exciting to hear, but it also tells me that I'm continuing to provide ideas and information that help, even when the client hasn't been looking for it. 

Are you thinking about the work you do in terms of how you contribute to helping others? If not, take a few minutes and write down five ways you made a difference for someone last week. It doesn't matter how big or small. You can feel good about the fact that you've helped someone else. 

And, if you're so inspired, write some content about it. (Then come let me know so I can check it out!)

Content creation for highly regulated industries

The most common industries that come to mind with challenges to creating content are those that have strict rules handed down by regulatory bodies, usually because they handle highly confidential, sensitive information: lawyers, accountants and other financial services, government contractors, etc.

I think we can all agree that there are few more regulated entities than the United States White House, right? Look at what President Obama has had to go through to sort of be able to use a Blackberry

It's impressive (if you have an interest in such things like I do) to see how much Obama has embraced and used technology and the internet to connect with the world.  

If the man who is considered the leader of the free world (and keeper of the ominous buttons we hope never get pressed) can have a successful, useful, engaging social media presence, why can't lawyers, accountants, bankers, investment advisors, government contractors, and others do the same?

Think differently

Some might think it's a trite and overused phrase, but it's what's required! Too often organizations focus entirely on what they're selling, pushing out all kinds of sales-y posts that offer little to no real value for readers. 

Here's a quick truth bomb for you (and I may have to do these more often): No one cares about your product and service offerings enough to connect with you and only ever hear about your product and service offerings. Remember the saying "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"? The bottom line of this truth bomb is that all sales and no value (or entertainment) makes you boring, irrelevant, and less likely to be followed. 

Instead of focusing on selling what you do as content (the act of telling), share stories about your industry, give followers a glimpse of your human side and the culture of your workplace, educate them about related industry topics that your target audience would be interested in.

Bust myths

Highly regulated industries, particularly government and professional services, give the world a lot of fodder for erroneous beliefs. We've all heard so many jokes about doctors and lawyers - often around the fees associated with going to one or the taxes we pay. (Well, maybe not so much doctors in Canada.) While the beliefs may be based in factual experiences of some, it's not a given that they apply to all.

How can you combat myths? Within reason, within the bounds of confidentiality and regulation, share the truth of what you do and what goes into your work.

  • Re-certification and ongoing licensing requirements
  • Insurance
  • Professional associations
  • Pro bono activities
  • Continuing education

No doubt every highly regulated industry has a laundry list of mythical stories floating around about how they operate. Where you can, share the truth in a way that educates - defensiveness not required.

Be helpful

Seriously, above all else, be helpful.

There are probably hundreds of topics that elected representatives can create content that educates followers. Besides education pieces, public service announcements, and useful information that apply to your audience are all valuable content that helps. 

People who work in regulated industries get all kinds of questions ALL. THE. TIME. You have to answer them when they come in, so take the ones that you can use to help the masses and use help the masses.