Professional organizations engage in stakeholder relations to achieve their strategic objectives. Stakeholders include members, corporate supporters, donors, government and the general public. Stakeholder relations involve sales and fundraising efforts, awareness, advocacy efforts and issues management. Successful relationship management is a key component of an organization’s member value proposition and requires an approach that builds trust and facilitates mutually beneficial relationships.
Stakeholders align themselves with organizations that are aligned to their objectives and add value.
We recently interviewed Jim Quick, President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC). He offered the following tips:
- Create value for your members. You have to impact their bottom line.
- If government relations is part of your mandate, have a value proposition for both your members AND for your government “customers”. AIAC’s members pay AIAC to have a strong relationship with government and this is based on a strong value proposition.
- Have a sustainability strategy. In particular ensure that you have diversified sources of revenue.
Consider the following to get the most out of your stakeholder relationships.
1. Define your stakeholder relations goals
Determine what you want the relationship to achieve. Until you know what you want to achieve, you cannot effectively seek the right stakeholders and manage a productive relationship.
2. Understand the stakeholders’ priorities and take a collaborative approach
Be clear about your stakeholders’ priorities and challenges. They want to make good decisions. When you can communicate how you can help fulfil those needs, you are likely to be a sought-after resource.
Avoid the position – “This is what we want from you”. Take time to build strong, collaborative relationships. Stakeholders must know who you are and what you can do for them before they will reciprocate.
3. Engage your stakeholders and communicate effectively
Engage your stakeholders actively and proactively with relevant, targeted communication. The format and manner of your communication efforts should be meaningful to the stakeholder. Encompass multiple outlets – sometimes you have to “say it” more than once, in different ways before someone takes notice and responds to your “call to action”. Remember, they are not focused on you. They are busy. The onus is on you to make them interested in your communication.
4. Manage and understand stakeholder expectations and monitor your efforts
Stakeholders need to know what they can expect from you and what you want from them.
Determine what constitutes a “win” for both you and your stakeholders. Regularly track and monitor the success and outcomes of your relationship by developing measurable goals, keeping a finger on the pulse of your reputation; monitoring industry trends and issues that impact you and your stakeholders; keeping abreast of legislation and government policies, etc. Staying informed enables you to be proactive, facilitates effective stakeholder relations and helps everyone achieve their goals.
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