When last we met, I summarized two key lessons from a dozen leading IT communications professionals. As CIOs fight a never-ending battle for talent in a hyper-competitive marketplace, and as they struggle to elevate their organizations from basic service providers to strategic innovators, their approach to communications becomes vital.\nThe best CIOs give their communications partners a seat at the table, and in this second part, I\u2019ll cover two more lessons heard around those tables. Last time, we discussed the art of communicating your signal through all the media noise, and the connection between internal and external communications.\nAnd any talk of external-facing communications brings us to our third lesson ...\nLesson 3: Your CIO must build a strong personal brand\nThe CIO is the external face of IT \u2014 and for tech-heavy industries, maybe a key face for the whole business. While the keep-the-lights-on CIO did not necessarily come up through the ranks expecting to be a public figure, this kind of executive poise is mandatory today. And if it doesn\u2019t come naturally, the communications lead has to help instill it.\n[ Learn from your peers: Check out our State of the CIO 2019 report on the challenges and concerns of CIOs today. | Find out the 7 skills of successful digital leaders and the secrets of highly innovative CIOs. | Get weekly insights by signing up for our CIO Leader newsletter. ]\n\u201cOur CIO was reluctant to be that face,\u201d Ted Hernandez, senior director of IT engagement at Dignity Health, recalls. \u201cShe said, \u2018I'm from the Midwest; we don't brag about what we do. Anyway, it's not about me; it's about us.\u2019 I said, \u2018Absolutely, but for it to be about us, you've got to get on the map and show that you've got a team that's worth joining, that you're a CIO people want to engage with.\u2019 It\u2019s all about building the culture.\u201d\nIt\u2019s about making sure people understand your story and your value, but some IT leaders are introverts. Certainly, no CIO has ever been found guilty of overcommunicating. My research into high performers has found that communication is one of 14 core competencies of the most successful leaders in high-performing organizations. Yes, speaking to the media or to a conference audience is outside some CIOs\u2019 comfort zones. But if there\u2019s one thing my organization has proven, it\u2019s that these skills can be taught, and that when CIOs and their teams understand marketing communications and have a few tools in their belt, they\u2019re amazingly creative. It\u2019s a real game-changer.\nCollectively, these communications veterans offer a great formula for building your external presence as a \u201cthought leader.\u201d Start with small, regional speaking engagements \u2014 especially in areas you\u2019re targeting for business growth or talent recruitment \u2014 and amplify those appearances with social media. Build to a point where the story, and the CIO, can be credibly pitched to the media. From there, pursue more regional or national engagements, and continue.\nLesson 4: Unleash your hallway ambassadors\nI was glad to hear this topic come up; it\u2019s one I\u2019ve been passionate about for 30 years. Every IT staffer is an IT ambassador. The credibility of your IT organization is enhanced (or not) through every interaction between IT staff and other business teams.\nWe\u2019ve been helping IT staffers communicate an awareness of IT\u2019s value for years, and we\u2019ve found that the most introverted IT folks become amazingly savvy day-by-day marketers when they understand how to do it, and that they\u2019re already doing it in every interaction.\nBy instilling a new mindset, developing new skills, and providing a framework for developing IT marketing plans, everyone builds the competence, confidence, commitment, and consistency that elevates IT on the value curve. We start to communicate our messages in the form of business benefits and impact, not the features that no one cares about.\n\u201cPeople within IT have to know not just their domain, but the bigger picture: the IT strategy and what it means from a business perspective,\u201d says Corky Valenti, senior manager of IT communications at Asurion, a global tech care leader. \u201cOtherwise, not only are they not going to be able to be ambassadors, but they\u2019re impeding their own career potential.\u201d\n\u201cWhen we do communications plans, we don't just socialize them with communications teams,\u201d says Madia Logan, Boeing\u2019s senior manager of communications and brand management. \u201cWe socialize them with the IT teams that are doing the work. They should understand how we\u2019re going to talk about the program, to help them be on-message.\u201d\nA major corollary to the notion of the hallway ambassador is transparency. That means not burying your head in the sand when something goes wrong. Deliver explanations, timelines, and steps toward improvement \u2014 and apologies, when appropriate. As important (and fun) as it is to celebrate IT\u2019s successes, we also have to own up to failures if we\u2019re going to maintain credibility and build trust.\nTransparency also means building trust by making people feel involved and invested. How can you make every IT team member an ambassador if you\u2019re a black box organization whose vision and roadmap are known only by an anointed few? Appropriate transparency is empowering and engaging, both for your team members and your partners across the greater organization.\nCommunicating a vision\nToday\u2019s CIOs have a story to tell. They must change the old narrative and describe the art of the (newly) possible. A great leader rises to the occasion and shares a vision that inspires the entire organization. They assiduously cultivate their communication competency, that ability to put your people inside the cathedral you want to build before the first brick is laid.\nA C-suite leader who excels at this is Claus Jensen, newly minted CTO of CVS Health, now a Fortune 5 company with the merger of CVS and Aetna. Claus communicates his vision across both internal and external channels.\nClaus recently shared a video with his 500-person organization that articulates with authenticity and clarity their new mission to \u201cTurn Vision into Action.\u201d He\u2019s also providing marketing training to his entire team so that they can succeed as ambassadors of the Office of the CTO. And he\u2019s posting twice weekly on LinkedIn, speaking at premier CIO events, and is about to launch his next book.\nIf you\u2019re an IT leader who feels like that level of communication skill is just out of reach, do what the best executives did when they were in your shoes: Seek training in public speaking and low-stakes ways to practice those skills, hire a communications lead or partner with your existing exec communications team, and devote time to shaping and sharing a compelling message.\nBecause these days, sharing the message is \u2014 well, not everything, but core to so much that the CIO does. From talent magnet to business partner to official face of IT, the CIO has to inspire and motivate. It\u2019s how today\u2019s leaders, and their businesses, win.\nIf you would like additional resources to help with your marketing and communications initiatives, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I\u2019d also like to hear about your communications successes and best practices, and what you are doing to move your org up the IT Maturity Curve.\n\nMore on the CIO role today:\n\n Wanted: CIOs to master digital strategy at the vanguard of change \n How CIOs can last longer than 4.3 years \n The case against the 'business-minded CIO \n CIO resumes: 6 best practices and 4 strong examples \n New CIO? Your transition playbook in 10 (not-so-easy) steps \n How successful IT leaders take charge from day one \n CIO succession planning in the digital age \n CIO playbook: 10 tips for leading IT in the digital era \n How CIOs transform IT for the digital era \n From CIO to CEO: 8 tips for taking your career to the top \n State of the CIO, 2019: CIOs get strategic\n 7 reasons CIOs quit (or lose their jobs) \n 8 CIO archetypes: What kind of IT leader are you?