Many of my roles through the years have involved being an advisor and partner to a senior stakeholder – especially during consulting engagements or when I was building their marketing strategy. This can be a tough job but is always so rewarding. I relish in supporting their success and the success of their team.
Sometimes the toughest part of this job is the relationship building. There are times when you get introduced to a stakeholder and you quickly need to move from a stranger to a trusted advisor.
Here are some things I’ve learned over the years to build successful stakeholder relationships:
1. Make Their Business Your Business
If you want to be an advisor, you better know your stuff. Make it your business to understand their business as your #1 job. Put yourself in their shoes. Do your homework, talk to people, ask good questions.
2. Formalize Your Engagement Model
Set expectations and be transparent with what your support model entails. Start by outlining their objectives…then you want to map how you will directly support these. Build a plan, review the plan, get alignment and buy-in, and then check-in and report back regularly on the status.
3. Take a Seat At Their Table
Ask to be included in their team meetings and share and add value where you can. This will not only help you better understand their business, but it help you be a part of their inner circle.
4. Don’t Be A Yes Man Or Woman
Everyone wants to say yes when you are building a new relationship and let’s face it- it can be hard to say no. But remember, you are there to be a partner – don’t lose sight of your value. Saying yes to everything doesn’t help anyone – your personal value declines because you aren’t staying focused on main objectives.
5. Communicate – Early and Often
Set up a regular cadence of communications but don’t be afraid to go outside of that. Don’t delay in delivering bad news. Be open and be proactive. Share research and articles that are relevant to their business and include your personal thoughts.
6. Be Trustworthy
The biggest component to a strong relationship is trust – not only with stakeholders but with our friends, colleagues, partners. Trust is earned. Keep your word, deliver what you say you will, and never share confidential information.
In conclusion, remember your place. Your job is to make them shine and make them successful. Be obsessed with their success. What are you doing for your stakeholder today?