Have you ever noticed why some people are more successful than others? Knowledge, skills, network, power, luck? For sure these are enablers, but in my experience a strong level of engagement is the foundation to give you the chance to flex your stuff!
Ahh you thought this was about me getting engaged like romantically didn’t you? 🙂
I am very lucky that I have been very successful in engaging with stakeholders to deliver to not only what I needed to but what they also had to deliver. However when I thought about why, a big part of it was because I already knew the people I was engaged with. Of course its easier when a relationship exists. Now though, i’m in a totally new environment, just started a new job with a massive company, and one of my critical success factors would be my relationship with people within multiple countries of all levels. Being the new kid on the block I had to rethink how I was going to do this.
A friend was talking to me about branding and marketing, and he mentioned a statement which resonated with me so much, “Branding is an investment over a passage of time”. As soon as he said that I wrote it down. He then went on to say to think about the famous brands, Nike, Coke, etc. You immediately think of them, why? As he very eloquently said, they all “rent space in your mind”. Bingo! With this extremely timely advice this was going to be my foundation.
So how did I build up my own brand, how did I build relationships up, how did I manage to rent space in their minds. Quite simply, I didn’t leave them alone! Here are some of the things I did.
Informal introduction prior to formal introduction
Every project has a kick off call/ meeting. Its usually the first time all the stakeholders meet. However I decided to have a little call prior to it. No more than ten minutes to introduce myself, get them to talk about themselves, joke about how our lives will change forever now. Now already heading into the formal kick off becomes far more easy going as you’ve already got a hint of the different personalities. The seed has been planted.
At my peak I was managing 8 countries at the same time, and each one of them I had to ensure they were doing what they needed to do. Every week I blocked off half hour sessions with each country. I put it in there calendar, my name was there. So each time they look in their calendar they see me, they have to talk. Even outside of structured calls, a quick message on Skype or text to check in goes a long way. Slowly with each touch that seed was getting watered.
Be the Bridge
Questions, questions and more questions. The single most important thing in continuing a successful engagement is to ensure the sole channel of communications is you. Only you. You will never have all the answers to every problem, issue, question, but you can be the conduit. I was extremely disciplined in making sure that happened. Whatever method, email, phone, Skype heck even WhatsApp messages when I’m at the airport. Of course you have to do your part in delivering, its hard work for sure, but who said gaining credibility was easy!
All of this was before meeting face to face. Now you can imagine with all this under my belt, meeting face to face for workshops, training, sign offs, was not only fruitful but it truly was like old friends reuniting. The seed has bloomed!
Would love to hear what you do in building engagement to success!