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When we think of stakeholder engagement, the first thing that comes to mind is probably something along the lines of big corporations and their social responsibility.

But this area is also important for smaller businesses since stakeholder engagement impacts businesses of all sizes in all of their day-to-day operations. Stakeholder engagement is essential in order for your business, or the business you are working for, to thrive and grow.

Stakeholder engagement is important and is all about creating a collaborative environment with all the stakeholders involved. It’s important to establish trust, build relationships, and actively listen to their needs so you can meet them.

Here are some effective tips on how you can improve your stakeholder engagement in your business.

Know who your stakeholders are and why they’re important

Before you can start engaging with your stakeholders, you need to know who they are and how they can benefit (or hurt) your business.

For example, both customers and suppliers are important to your operation. Normally, you will have a more direct relationship with your customers, depending on the type of business you’re in. But you are still likely to have regular communication with suppliers for your inventory needs and shipping. In many ways, suppliers are just as important as customers. After all, without them, you wouldn’t have what you need to fulfil orders and meet your customers’ expectations.

Set expectations from the beginning

As soon as you onboard new stakeholders, establish how you plan to work with them. Be sure to cover all the details, including how often you plan to communicate with them, what type of information you hope to receive from them, and how quickly you would like them to respond to your requests.

We often overlook this part of the relationship, but it’s crucial to building a sustainable partnership. If you have consistent and open communication with all stakeholders, both parties will have a better understanding of what to expect from each other, which will go a long way in avoiding conflicts and misunderstandings.

Host regularly scheduled meetings

When managing multiple stakeholders, consider hosting regular meetings. These can range from weekly to monthly and vary depending on the level of partnership you have with each stakeholder. They are an effective way to stay in touch and be transparent with your stakeholders and are a vital part of the whole process.

Hosting regular meetings is a great way to stay connected with your stakeholders, understand how they operate and what challenges they are facing, and share your progress and strategies. You can also use these meetings as an opportunity to solicit feedback from all parties and gain important insights that will help to improve your business.

Ask for feedback and actually, listen to it

Asking for feedback on a consistent basis is another important part of stakeholder engagement. One way to do this is to have a survey form, which you can send to your stakeholders at regular intervals. Of course, it’s important to actually listen to what your stakeholders have to say. This means you have to take time to reflect on their input and apply it to your business, whether that means making changes to your product or service, or correcting an internal process.

Establish a culture of transparency

As you’re actively engaging with your stakeholders, you also want to make sure you’re creating a culture of transparency in your business. Transparency doesn’t just happen — it requires effort and intentionality on your part. In order to build transparency in your business, you need to be honest and upfront with your stakeholders at all times.

This doesn’t mean you have to share confidential information that could put your business at risk, but it does mean you should stay away from any type of deceit or manipulation. When you’re transparent in your business relationships, you build trust, and your stakeholders will want to actively engage with you. They’ll feel comfortable bringing up issues and concerns and feel like you’ll be receptive to their feedback.

Wrapping up

Stakeholder engagement is about creating a collaborative environment with all of your stakeholders. Whatever frequency you are in contact with them and whatever the extent to which they are key to your business success, it’s important to establish trust, build relationships, and actively listen to their needs so you can meet them.

Whether you work as an independent consultant or in an organization, stakeholder engagement is essential in order for your business to thrive and grow.

To improve your stakeholder engagement, you need to know who your stakeholders are and why they’re important, set expectations from the beginning, host regularly scheduled meetings, ask for feedback and most importantly actually listen to it.

Prendo, a company renowned for its business simulations, offers another way of helping businesses improve stakeholder relationships. For more information on stakeholder management do check out the Prendo website.