Working Out Loud In Action: Interview with Rita Zonius

Rita Zonius is an Australian communications and enterprise social consultant supporting companies to build their impact and influence through social. Before her consulting and speaking career, Rita led the Internal Digital Communications team at ANZ to support the organisation realise the business benefits of enterprise social technologies, including driving a collaborative culture across ANZ’s workforce of around 60,000 staff globally. Rita is a passionate advocate for working out loud in all aspects of her work.

We spoke recently to Rita for our WOL in Action series for WOLWeek.

How do you practice working out loud in your work?

For me, the focus has always been skewed to wanting to add value to others, whether it be online or ‘in real life’. When I share what I know, I do it in the hope that I can save someone time, help them to stop a train from crashing or equip them to take advantage of an opportunity. This applies whether I’m working with clients to help them build their social media capability, through my writing and, of course, through my involvement in #ESNchat on Twitter, a weekly conversation on all things enterprise social media.

This week we are exploring the benefits of working out loud. What benefits have you seen in your work?

First it’s useful to understand that the benefits of working out loud don’t happen overnight. However, if you put in the hard work to add value to your network and to nurture the relationships you form, over time you will benefit from knowledge and opportunities that will come your way as a result of you building trust and credibility in those relationships. I wrote about this in a blog post earlier this week. When people get to know you, they then ask you to get involved in their work. Before you know it, one opportunity leads to another and so on. You will also meet wonderful people, many of whom will become your friends. Working out loud is professional and personal at the same time.

You have implemented collaboration projects in large organisations. What role does working out loud play in that work?

Too many organisations think the deployment of collaboration tools is about technology. However, it’s not the technology that will collaborate – it’s the people using it!  Enterprise social networks and related tools will work best when you help different people around your organisation use the tools in the service of the real work they have to do. Turning the tech on without a clear plan  – and without fantastic community managers to be your cheerleaders, strategists and tacticians – will probably get you a result you won’t be happy with.

What’s hardest about working out loud?

You need stamina. It’s time in the game over a long period that gets you results. If you’re the one who’s always asking for advice, but never giving any, what good do you think will come of that for you in the long run?  Working out loud is about both giving and receiving. This is not the pursuit for you if you’re after a quick win. And besides, everyone can smell the hustler coming at them from a mile away.

Any advice for others?

WOLWeek is a great time to stop and think about whether you’re doing enough to build and nurture your network. Taking care of our relationships is like tending a garden. You have to keep at it because it will die without your care. Sometimes working out loud doesn’t always go your way, but mostly the hard work bears fruit. I’d also advise against worrying about where your working out loud journey will take you ultimately. Be generous, share what you know and ask when you need help. If you’ve invested in your relationships, the return will be gold.

One common issue with working out loud is people think it involves loud working out. You have some expertise in this area to share as as a Pump class instructor. Any loud working out tips to share?

WOLWeek is particularly special for me, because not only do I do it in the professional sense, but I ‘work out loud’ in the gym.  It’s loud, because I’m the instructor ‘working out’ with the microphone up the front of the room! That might sound funny but in the process of becoming a certified BodyPump instructor, you do indeed have to record yourself on video instructing a class and the video is used in assessment. You become used to receiving feedback on work done in a very visible way. That was weird for me at first.  So my tip for everyone is this – deliberately pick one thing you want to work out loud on and give it a shot. It could be asking a question or showing a piece of work. Do it consciously and over time, it will cease feeling weird. In fact, you won’t want to work any other way. 


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