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Friends of The Spire: Proof that a small group can make a big difference

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We love our clients and like to promote the great work they do in our city. We became involved with Friends of The Spire in 2017 and are delighted to share with you the success the group has had in renovating and reinvigorating a welcoming (and affordable!) space for nonprofits and community groups in Kingston.


Where do nonprofit organizations and community groups find affordable and safe space for assembly, celebration, reflection and social action?
For some, that place is The Spire. And Friends of The Spire – a dedicated small group of tireless individuals – are committed to preserving this beautiful heritage building for Kingstonians.
You can help.
First, a bit of background.
Known for generations as the Sydenham Street United Church, The Spire is located in the heart of the Old Sydenham Heritage Conservation District and has been a gathering place since long before Confederation. Originally serving as the city’s circus site, the land was donated in 1851 by the city’s first mayor, John…

That fear-inducing question: What's your budget?

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Some months ago, I met with a networking group and we got on the topic of the inherent challenges of writing quotations for clients. One of the things that makes this process difficult is the awkward and sometimes fear-inducing question we ask: What's your budget?

Why do consultants ask you about money?

Let's begin with you.

You need some work done so, you call or email a consultant or two or three to get quotations for services.

"How much it will cost to do "x?"

Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn't it? Yet the truth is, I can't always answer that seemingly simple question in a direct way because (and here's where a bit of scepticism may enter on your part) I want to be sure that what you're asking for will get you what you want.

I pepper you with questions like:

What do you want to achieve?How much time do you have to achieve it?Who is your audience?Who is your competition?Is everyone on board with the goal?And finally, the killer question: Wh…

Networking without fear

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Networking.

The idea of it gives many people knots in the stomach. I used to be one of them.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

The best advice I ever received was to stop thinking about networking as a way to sell yourself and to think of it as an opportunity to help others.

"Attend networking events with the intent to be a connector."

Ask others about themselves and their work. Listen to what they do and who they need to meet. Think about how you might help them through your networks.

When you make networking about service to others rather than focusing on yourself, the fear of facing a crowd melts away. At least it did for me.

Sure, you still need to have an elevator speech because when you are interested in others, they usually ask you about you, so be prepared.

But, when you attend to others, the spotlight changes direction and that's a lot more comfortable than feeling like you're at a speed dating event.

Since those bygone days, I often carry the business…

What's culture got to do with it?

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I've written and spoken (a lot) about brand. What it is and what it isn't.

It's a favourite soapbox of mine.

Over the years, I've been asked many times to "create a brand."

As soon as I begin to ask questions about their customer service, internal culture, market position, etc., I am often met with that deer-in-the-headlights look.

They aren't really asking for help with their brand. What they are saying is: "Create a logo for us."

Your logo, motto or slogan, the colours, fonts and images that you use represent your brand -- or what you think your brand is or want it to be.

Brand itself is quite different.

To define your brand, ask yourself some questions.

How would you describe your business's culture? What behaviour do you recognize and reward among your employees? How do you think your customers would describe their experiences with you? How responsive are you to requests for service after the sale? Do you give back to your community? Wha…

Hello? Is anybody listening?

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Over the past few weeks, I've been teaching a course in health care communication to a group of international students at the local community college. One module was on effective listening.
What has struck me since that module, is the number of times during the course good listening skills have arisen. In almost every other conversation we've had, the art of listening has been key. When the group presentation assignment came around, one group chose this as the topic.
The ability to listen -- to really listen -- affects our relationships, the decisions we make, how well we engage others, how we show empathy and respect.
Great listening means doing more than waiting to speak. It means putting your biases aside and opening your mind to hear not only what's being said but what's behind what's being said. It's about being curious and wanting to understand another person's point of view.
"Seek first to understand," as Stephen Covey wrote in the 7 Habit…

It's not my job.

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Communication is everyone's job.

That's right. I said it.

Your communication department can't do it all alone.

Whether you lead a team or are an employee, you are the face of the organization inside and outside.

As a manager or supervisor, your team counts on you to share organizational updates, to recognize good performance and to listen to ideas and concerns, and escalate them as appropriate. The communication culture you create can build a great team or destroy it.

An an employee (regardless of where in the organization you work) you should be aware of what your organization is doing, what it's goals are and how you fit into the picture. Your employer should be providing this information. It's up to you to stay informed.

So, if we have to do all this, why have a communication department? you might well ask.

Your communication experts not only must provide information and set up the avenues for you to be informed, they are also responsible to:

provide you with gr…

Why you need plain language

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Great writing begins with knowing your purpose, your audience and your message. But that's just the beginning. Learning how to write with impact takes practice.

Do you have tips that have helped you become a better writer? We'd love to hear from you.

Colleen