What exactly are stakeholders and what do they mean for your business? “Stakeholders” can include anyone with a direct interest in your business, including stockholders, customers, and employees. However, the importance of the term isn’t in who your stakeholders are, but what they mean to your company. The term “stakeholders” was first used in an internal memorandum at the Stanford Research Institute in 1963 and was defined as “those groups without whose support the organization would cease to exist.” That might sound like pretty strong language, but the fact remains to this day: not only do stakeholders have a vested interest in your success—your success is also dependent on them!
Since stakeholders can have a significant impact on your professional success, it’s important to develop a positive, mutually beneficial relationship. As with most aspects of professional life, strong communication is key to maintaining a positive relationship with your stakeholders. Although clear, direct communication is essential, sometimes more creative communication outlets can take your connection and engagement to the next level. Here are three techniques that I have found help to foster connection and build lasting connections with the stakeholders in your business:
- Storytelling: Embedding your message in a story is a great way to deliver relevant content while engaging your listener. Stories bring out emotions and help to foster a genuine connection between speaker and audience. Find a story which encompasses the key points of your message and weave it into your communication or marketing.
- Role Playing: Strong, effective communication involves developing a deeper understanding of your listener. Role playing allows you to walk in someone else’s shoes to gain a clearer picture of their needs, their priorities, and how they see the world.
- Use Visuals to Maximize Comprehension: With the breakneck pace of today’s world, distraction has become an epidemic. Fortunately visuals are a great tool for combating distraction, and helping your listener focus on your message. Whether projected as slides, drawn on whiteboards, or shared on smart devices, a visual aid can go a long way towards driving home your key points and connecting with your audience.
Remember: your stakeholders hold the key to the kingdom! Without their support, your business would not exist. By combining clear, confident communication with creative techniques like those above, you can create a stronger, more effective connection with your stakeholders, and increase the success and stability of your business.