Communicating With Employers – A Shift in Paradigm For Service Providers

If you’re used to the non-profit lingo, you might find communicating with employers a bit of a culture-shock. Employers can appear very direct and to the point, as well as assertive and focused. The key word here is “appears.” This difference is not personal, merely a product of the different context employers work in. To communicate with employers more effectively, consider the following tips:Use Simple LanguageIn written prose, people in the non-profit field tend to write in complex and lengthy sentences. After all, this is the norm when writing grant proposals and project reports. The audiences that read the proposals or reports generally have the time to study them, and would likely take the time to focus on even the smallest detail.Employers, on the other hand, have limited time. They need to come up with a concrete plan of action at the conclusion of every meeting. So, the faster they can understand a point, the better. They’re also more interested in the here and now; details like historical or social analysis would likely be considered “too much information.”When writing a proposal or sharing information with an employer, use short sentences (give or take 7 words) and short paragraphs (3-4 sentences). Stick to the major points; get to the “bottom line” at the first reading. Make all statements self-explanatory. For instance, instead of saying “this program will mitigate the negative impact of the global economic recession on a commercial system’s attrition rate,” you can just say “this program will decrease employee attrition.”Discuss things in measurable and quantifiable terms. Do not present abstract benefits. For example, don’t just say “diversity.” Rather, state how this diversity will be produce measurable results.Use Bullet PointsResearch has shown that business executives often write information in short bullet point lists as opposed to service providers who write in several long paragraphs.Individuals from the non-profit sector like to tell the story; the process of how points came about is as important as the points themselves. While a story can be compelling and is appropriate in some instances, employers, because of their limited time, prefer things already divided in discrete elements. This is so they won’t miss anything.Bulleted points provide quantifiable overviews of how many things need to be addressed. It’s easier to manage; your employer could just decide on deliverables per point. Also, if you’re unable to review all of the key points, you’ll know where you left off so you can discuss it next time.Create your Elevator SpeechThe elevator speech, often referred to as an elevator pitch, is a verbal pitch that can grab the attention of its audience within the time span of an elevator ride (about 30-seconds). In the case of workforce development professionals, it’s telling who you are, what you do, and what you can do for the person you’re talking with. This pitch must be confident, catchy and memorable.Most people think that talking for 30-seconds or 150 words is a “piece of cake.” Wrong! If you listen to the introductions of most people, they generally include their name, title, agency, and job description. Does that grab your attention? Does it appeal to your values? Does it communicate a concrete benefit or competitive advantage? The answer is no, no, and no! Whether you choose to admit it or not, you’re in sales. You only have one opportunity to make a first impression. Your goal should be to stand out from the rest. It would be worth the effort to invest some time in developing your pitch. There are many sites on the web with information about how to craft your elevator speech. Be sure to check them out!Practice, Practice, PracticeCommunication, like many other things you do, is a skill; it can only be polished with practice. If changing your communication style feels foreign to you, you need to exert a deliberate effort to change your communication style. Perhaps it’s only a matter of rewriting some of the notes you already have on paper. Or, maybe you just need to practice your verbal pitch with a co-worker. Whatever it is, keep your eye on the goal and continue polishing your skills. You’ll be glad you did!

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