This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.
The Engage step is where you demonstrate you have value to add to a specific issue at-hand—in your first conversation or your 100th. As in, “I hear X may be an issue for you. Is that right?” or “I’ve been thinking about your situation, and …” or “You mentioned in our last meeting that …”
Engage is your opportunity to generate interest; to communicate that it just might be worth talking to you. Like many other aspects of trust-building, it’s simple … and not necessarily easy.
I know I fail to engage effectively when I’m especially passionate about—or frustrated by—a topic. In both cases, it takes real consciousness and effort for me to move the focus from me to my stakeholder. When I’m successful, the payoff is getting clear about why what I want to talk about is something he should spend time and energy on as well, which maximizes the chances that he’ll make it a priority.
This week, choose a key stakeholder with whom you’d like to have more influence or a better relationship—ideally, one where you haven’t been able to get attention on a deserving topic. Look for ways to engage her on matters of interest to her. Think about competitive developments, career challenges, managerial issues, personal goals, or simply something you noted from an interaction in the past and see value in raising. Then look at it from her point of view and lead with that in your next conversation.