By Sandy Gough

IABC/Calgary’s professional development event with Chris Kneeland was thought provoking and invigorating. Chris, the CEO of Cult Collective and co-founder and COO of Communo, doesn’t dispense the same old, same old business advice, which fits because the world of communications isn’t the same as it was even five years ago. The landscape has shifted and is changing constantly. To thrive, communicators, especially solopreneurs, have to change their mindsets. You can’t do business the same old way if you want to thrive in the future.

Chris introduced 5 Threats – disruptive forces – that are changing the landscape and brainstormed ways to handle them.

Communicators met at Communo on Oct. 24 to talk about the changing communications landscape.
  • Volatility
  • People have turned down the volume
  • Talk vs. shut up and listen
  • “Communications” is way too generic
  • Are you ready for the invasion?

Some key insights from Chris:

“Even if you do great work, you still have to sing for your supper.”  You need to constantly create value for your clients.

“Where is the discipline in listening?” Listen to clients. Listen to customers. Really listen. Customer input can lead to engagement, new products, and trusted referrals.

“How well do you understand the problem your work is being purchased to solve?”

It’s not enough to produce the beautiful brochure the client asked for. Chris challenged us to “become more opinionated about what you’re being asked to sell.” Use your expertise to figure out the approach or product that will make a real difference to your client and their audience.

“You’ll cut out a ton of clients, but you’ll connect with people who value what you actually do.” Don’t just describe yourself as a “communicator,” or “good blog writer.” Generic descriptions are too general. Be specific about what you do and exactly who you want to work with.

“Everyone is deciding to hang out their shingle.” How will you stand out in the gig economy where anyone can market themselves as a “communicator”? Hint: develop proven expertise and provide value (and join IABC!).

The event was held at the Communo Compound in Inglewood, in an open space on the third floor with a cozy fireplace and a great view of downtown. A relaxing space for an energetic presentation that provided challenging ideas. Natasha Cousin, IABC/Calgary’s co-director of Professional Development, said the talk “made her take a step back and really think about the strategies she’s using in her business.” The idea of “specializing to work with like-minded people and personalities” stood out for Rio Pisony, director of Marketing for IABC/Calgary. Judging by the conversations happening around the space after the event, Chris gave us a lot to think about.

Thanks to Natasha Cousin and Tim Shaw, co-directors of Professional Development, for organizing the event, and to Sharon Lee, IABC/Calgary President, and Patrick Orr, VP Marketing and Growth – Communo, for hosting and introducing the speaker.

Shout out to our door prize sponsors – Scarpetta Italian Eatery, Bite Grocer & Eatery, and Milk Jar Candle Co. – and to our caterer of choice, Indulge Catering, always delicious!

Communo is a members-only coworking space that provides more than just a desk. If you want to learn more about Communo, check out their weekly online info sessions. The next one is November 1 at 7:30 pm. Register here:

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