My best encouraging advice for meeting new stakeholders

change leadership confidence stakeholder engagement Jul 04, 2023
Lata in gold top smiling; text: my advice for meeting new stakeholders

Stakeholder engagement is a massive part of leading change and truth talk: even though I’m a people person, I’m also a closet introvert and I actually still have to steel myself to break the ice and meet new stakeholders when I join a new project and team.


But I will say that practice makes perfect, and years and years of having to meet new stakeholders has taught me a thing or two about what works, what doesn’t, and how to make it easier. 


Here are my top 4 tricks and tips for building the courage to set up that initial meeting and kick off that conversation at this critical time in your role as a Change Manager:


1. Remind yourself why you’re there

You’re there to help and while not everyone knows what Change Management is or wants a Change Manager to work with them, your intention is what sets the tone of your relationship. So remind yourself that you’re there for them, not for you. To serve, to support, to set them up for success. It’ll help you get out of your own head and into their shoes.


2. Try to meet 1:1 the first time

Even when I’ve got 10-20 stakeholders to meet for a new project, I will take the time to meet them one-on-one, even if it’s just a 15-30 minute catch up. It really helps to build connection, but also gives you the chance to hear more about them and what’s really going on, which they may not be comfortable sharing with their leader or peers in the room or on the call. Some stakeholders will drag along random people to the initial meeting, but that’s ok and can probably give you some clues about them (re they going to delegate everything, do they really have knowledge of how things work, are they trying to give juniors exposure, is there unclear accountability etc). Top tip to reduce this: turn off forwarding on the meeting invite!


3. Go for coffee

It’s a running joke that Change Managers are always taking stakeholders for coffee but it’s true. If you’re working remote, you might need to change out of your trackie dacks and venture into the office for a week or two to meet stakeholders because it is a really important time in setting the project up for success. Getting out of the office for a coffee, or even just catching up in the kitchen or break area rather than a meeting room, is gold for building trust and rapport. If they’re remote - put “virtual coffee” in the meeting invite and encourage them to bring along a hot brew. It will help relax the energy of the catch up.


4. Turn the video on

I shouldn’t even have to say this if you’re leading change, but seriously - we humans are visual creatures and even on a virtual call you can still pick up a lot of non-verbal cues of body language and physiology and build more rapport. Sometimes you need to be the change and pave the way for a trust culture so really try to always have your video on.

These 4 tips seem super simple, but sometimes it’s the simple things that work a charm and you’ll be charming your stakeholders in no time. 


I share more tips and tricks to building trusting relationships with stakeholders instantly in my free 6 Ways to Build Trust Instantly with Stakeholders training video.


CLICK HERE to watch my free Building Trust training video


And remember - building trust is a transferable skill that will serve you well in any role, any company, any industry and any country (yes - these tips work globally!). And of course - when leading change!


Lata xx

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