Forget about gaining your audience’s trust

Social media people (That sounds shady to me. Am I alone?) always talk about “gaining your audience’s trust.” And that’s important. But it skips past an all-important step: gaining your colleagues’ trust.

If you’re leading a communications culture shift, you’d better do some of that trust-building legwork inside the company first. I want to show people what goes into keeping the power on all day. It’s an enormous undertaking. And there are some great stories to be told. Like the turkey vulture dung shields our crews invented. Or the yellow jacket attack. That’s a good one! Then there are the close calls our guys have had in some of our work zones. Remind me to tell you about these sometime, will you?

So I grab my camera, Flip cam, and hard hat and head out into the field on a regular basis. I need to explain what social media’s about and ensure the people I work with that I’m trying to make them look good. I’ve considered the risks. I’ve got their backs.

But showing up with donuts isn’t enough. The people who regularly work around energized power lines aren’t impressed when the smiley lady from corporate communications shows up once in a while to take their picture. Why should they trust me?

So I keep showing up. And when they invite me into their “office” to see what it’s like to do business three stories up, I step into the bucket truck, strap on a harness and try to still my pounding heart. And when that hydraulic arm takes us back down to the dusty earth, I detect a slight shift in the way the crew feels about me.

“Hey Lisa, come take a look at these porcelain insulators. Maybe people would want to know what they do. Bring your Flip cam.”

I visited this crew in Concord, N.C. as they were installing new lines in preparation for expanding the roadway beside Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The lines were not yet connected to the power so they were not energized. I mention this because the crew wanted me to know they wouldn’t take me up in a bucket around energized lines. And they’d want you to know that too.

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