Over the past 12 years, I have had the unique opportunity to hop, skip, and jump across three major continents working in communications, most recently moving from Sydney to New York.
While I have too many amusing anecdotes that stem from the differences in culture and language (I took the phrase “fire drill” literally for months), the biggest takeaway has been the opportunity to continually ask questions and learn.
What do I mean by that?
There are certainly communication practices that can be applied globally, however, each country places different values on these elements and has its own nuances. While that is not surprising, the differences challenge you to think about the way you have been working.
Have I been working in the most efficient way? Is it best practice? How can I adapt? What can I bring to the table from my international experience? This is where my career has always grown the most–learning and adapting based on the differences.
With that in mind, here are my top four takeaways:
- Let’s network: Attending events and networking was never really a focus for me in Sydney or London. However, it is part and parcel of work life here in New York. I now realize how valuable it is and how it can create firm and valuable business relationships and media relationships, as well as widen your expertise and knowledge.
- How to stand out from the crowd: In Australia, dealing with tighter budgets, a competitive media landscape and many journalists sourcing their news internationally meant you had to work hard to make your product stand out and get noticed. How? I learned to become more creative and nimble when building communications campaigns. We had to focus on quirky and imaginative work to get attention, and that is the lens I always bring to any campaign I create now.
- Ask Questions & Trust Your Gut: In Australia, I worked on clients across a whole spectrum of industries, including FMCG, corporate comms, consumer tech and B2B. It taught me how to quickly adapt my core communications skill set as well as to always trust my gut. Even if I were working on a new industry for a client, if something didn’t feel right, I would ask questions before making a decision.
- Use all tools to showcase your expertise: Sydney and London are still very much focused on resumes, but when I moved out here I quickly realized LinkedIn was a valuable recruitment tool. It’s a good reminder to regularly update and showcase your experience and expertise across all channels.
This is just a small taste of what I have learned during my time in the industry. And while there are things that each country does differently, I have also found three big similarities that make any agency–and campaign–built for success: passion, the people, and feedback.
A passion for what you do truly shows through every element of your job and being able to share that passion with great people makes it even better. And finally, feedback is one of the essential elements of good communication.
How else can you learn? After all, they say communication is a skill you can learn if you are willing to work at it!