6 Goals for Every Conversation with a New Stakeholder

Every new idea, every better way of working, every innovation requires engagement, interaction with your stakeholders, to be successful. Here are six goals to keep in mind when you first meet with one of your stakeholders:

  1. Build trust
    This is first. Without it, every thing else falls apart.  Surprisingly few leaders give it the importance and attention it deserves. First and foremost is to demonstrate graciousness and respect for your audience. Always remember, if you mess this up, they can take you out. You can’t do change alone.
  2. Seed the conversation
    Come well prepared with your materials. Introduce only enough to initiate and guide the conversation. This is not a data dump. You are creating an opportunity for others to become engaged. Begin where they need to get on, and stop when you have said enough.
  3. Listen
    This is active listening. Put yourself in their shoes. If you don’t understand what they are saying or feeling, act. Demonstrate your intent to understand. Ask for clarification. I often say, “Can you say more about that?” Then reflect back what you have heard. Prepare for your understanding to be incomplete or wrong. This is not a showstopper, in fact, asking for help to get it right is one of the most effective ways to garner enthusiastic support.
  4. Learn
    Every interaction informs your “market research.” You can’t afford to get it wrong. Go into every conversation to increase your understanding. If it’s not happening, take the initiative to make it happen. Find ways for every person or group to become your teacher.
  5. Inspire
    Share your vulnerabilities and enthusiasm. Learn how to express your emotions in your presentations. The word, emotion, comes from the Latin, e-movere, to move. You must move your audiences to action, and emotion is your key.
  6. Connect
    Always provide support materials. Let people know how to get in touch with you and where to find more information
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