Stakeholder engagement involves the art of interacting, collaborating, and building relationships with your internal clients. As a Business Development and Marketing Manager in a law firm, establishing strong connections with stakeholders is essential for the success of your work as it requires you to build trust, collaborate and get buy-in on key initiatives.
Successful stakeholder engagement goes beyond transactional exchanges, such as delivering pitches or crafting collateral. True engagement involves really understanding the essence of what your stakeholders represent, understanding the markets they cater to, and comprehending the client relationships they aim to foster.
What is manager level stakeholder engagement?
One of the most significant transitions when moving from a junior role in the Business Development and Marketing team to a management position is the increased interaction with Partners, Attorneys and other senior leaders in the firm. Additionally, you will take on more substantial responsibilities in cultivating these relationships.
This aspect will continue to grow as you progress to higher positions, often aligning with increased involvement and accountability in areas such as business planning, strategy development, budgeting, and project ownership. This is distinct from merely receiving a project and carrying out, coordinating, or supporting its execution.
How do you identify your Senior Stakeholders?
This might seem like a straightforward task, but especially within partnerships, things aren't always so simple. The first step in identifying important senior stakeholders is to collaborate with your company's organizational structure. Who are the leaders and operators? Another effective approach is to gather opinions from your colleagues by asking them directly. Your team can also provide valuable background information that supports your perspective.
Naturally, some stakeholders will be more aligned with marketing and business development efforts than others. Similarly, there will be individuals you must establish connections with due to their significance within the company.
Seeking insights from your team is crucial. This not only helps you identify senior stakeholders, but also provides insights into their working styles, motivations, and their typical interactions with the marketing and business development team. Being proactive is essential.
It's vital to acknowledge that diverse stakeholder opinions play a pivotal role in crafting strategies and initiatives. Senior stakeholders come from various parts of the business, extending beyond just fee earners. Consider leaders from other business services like Operations and HR. Cultivating these relationships offers a panoramic view, enabling you to garner support and approval at a broader strategic level. This is a noteworthy point, often overlooked in partnership settings.
The most successful professionals in any business excel as networkers, fostering crucial relationships across the entire organization. They understand who to impress, who can get things done, and who the key business influencers are.
This not only elevates your job performance – by knowing who to approach, seeking guidance, and accomplishing tasks effectively – but also secures stakeholders who are on your side. They'll support your endeavors and highlight your achievements when opportunities for advancement arise.
Remember that Partners are people
In the realm of professional services, the partnership becomes the primary client for Business Development and Marketing professionals. It's of utmost importance for firms to deliver value to these clients, and conversely, for BD and Marketing teams to contribute value to the partnership.
How do you add value?
Come prepared with ideas, but also lend an ear. The crux lies in truly understanding your Partners and showing genuine curiosity about them. Not just in terms of their business development and marketing endeavors, but also in relation to them as individuals. If you can establish a connection with someone on a personal level, discussing business matters becomes natural.
Make sure to keep track of recent activities of your key stakeholders and remember to inquire about those topics when you next interact. Building that rapport is no different to building a friendship. If you show interest in someone else, they’re more likely to be receptive to you and what you have to say.
A savvy executive collaborates with their manager to establish goals for engaging with stakeholders. This proactive stance not only signals your intentions but also showcases your proactive approach to personal growth. For instance, you might collaborate with your manager to outline discussion points before meetings with partners. This empowers you to have a voice, establish direct rapport with partners, and boost your own self-assurance.
At its core, stakeholder engagement involves the skill of establishing connections and exerting influence, fostering relationships and garnering support.
Upon assuming the role of a BD or Marketing Manager, effective stakeholder management becomes paramount. It entails transforming into a consultant for your internal clients, rather than simply fulfilling their requests unquestioningly. Additionally, it involves building your own network of supporters within the organization. Through the cultivation and growth of these internal relationships, your ability to secure support and accomplish your goals will be greatly enhanced.