For every meeting and event professional, there are 1,000+ stakeholders standing behind them.
From the boss to the board to the client to the supplier, there are a lot of people invested in the success of the meeting, conference, exhibition or event. And your job, as the event magician, is to find out what’s going to make these people walk away happy.
And there are 10 million nightmare scenarios that many meeting professionals have experienced that have thwarted making 100% of stakeholders 100% happy.
Building buy-in and more importantly, meeting the expectations of your stakeholders is an extremely delicate balancing act.
It requires diplomatic savvy, impeccable ability to read people for unarticulated needs, a keen sense of available resources and the most acute skill of all: critical thinking.
Effective stakeholders are ones who can see the various needs of the stakeholders as pieces in the larger jigsaw puzzle. They also know how to get everything to fit, and how to negotiate the give-and-take that is part of the stakeholder management process.
Your first step in assessing and clarifying stakeholders is to start at the bulls eye of the event.
- Who is directly going to benefit from it?
- Who has skin in the game regarding the event/meeting outcome?
- Who else can you partner with to improve the meeting?
Truly, the process really starts with initiating conversations. Stakeholders are more than ready to share with you what they want…and by simply engaging in active listening, you gain better insights into what they see as the benefit.
Start at the beginning, which is really the end.
- How do they see the event transpiring?
- What’s their meeting vision?
- What do they want to see happen at the event?
Then ask the critical questions that delve into their core needs (articulated and non-articulated): What is the root of their requests? What is their objective?
Once you have made those contacts, ask the stakeholders:
Who else do you think might be interested in the meeting/event?”
Those referrals can help open up new ideas and doors to opportunity.
Too many times, sales people and meeting professionals forget to ask this question, and this usually means that money and additional opportunities are left on the table.
Once you have identified all of the stakeholders and their needs, then start parsing through your event to discover where you can “plug” them into the meeting vision.
Classify each according to their needs/expectations, and create the opportunities that match.
Then—and this is the most critical phase—develop the plan that will manage all of these stakeholders and deliver on your outlined promises.
By clearly assessing their needs then classifying them, stakeholders feel fulfilled because you met their expectations.
You promised, and you delivered, and that’s the formula for success.