If you’re in a complex, cross-matrixed business, the chances are that your success depends on stakeholders across the organization with varied roles and responsibilities. When it comes to getting work done, it takes more than rolling up your sleeves and jumping in with both feet. You’ve got to be strategic. These five actions are just what you need to ensure the outcomes you want.


Authenticity is where success starts. Be authentic in your approach to relationship building. Ask relevant questions about the stakeholder’s goals and look for ways to support them in achieving their success first. People know when you are sucking up, so if you can’t be genuine, you’re better off keeping quiet.

When you can connect with a stakeholder’s concerns, intentions, and most importantly, their needs, then you are in an excellent position to assist. Your goal is to establish a meaningful business relationship built on competence, respect, and trust. But you’ve got to be real to get your foot in the door.

Being authentic not only builds rapport, but it also puts you in an excellent position to get stakeholder input and support when you need it most.

Give without Expecting Anything in Return

Once you’ve gone through the authentic relationship building and determined what your stakeholder needs, it’s time to be proactive and deliver. Maybe it’s something you can do, such as write a quick program or provide important benchmark research. On the other hand, perhaps you can connect them with someone who can better meet their need. What’s important is that you take action to fill the need without expectations.

How does this help you? The goal is to establish a reputation for business savvy and problem-solving. Proactively stepping in to assist speaks to your enterprising business acuity and enhances your reputation. When people like you, they are more willing to listen to your business goals and offer suggestions. Additionally, stepping up to the plate opens the doors for opportunities that may interest you down the road.

The post Five Practices that Contribute to Career Success suggests that not only do you want to give more than you get without expectation, but you also need to resolve yourself to be perfectly happy about it!

Be Accessible

Once you’ve established a trusting relationship and demonstrated your resourcefulness, you need to ensure your availability. Chances are, if you’ve proven yourself a subject matter expert, or reliable resource, your stakeholder may call on you again. Which, of course, is exactly what you want them to do.

Be there. Be accessible.

And without your asking, they will most likely be there for you, too.

Be a Connoisseur of Ongoing Learning

In business, it’s common for people to be so caught up in the day-to-day of their jobs that they don’t prioritize ongoing learning. Make it your job to stay current on the latest technologies, business models, training platforms, etc., and find ways to incorporate them into your work and the work of others when it makes sense.

Being on the cutting edge lets people know that you are not only doing your homework, but you also know how to take what you learn and apply it. This demonstrates innovation and, in some cases, a willingness to take calculated risks. Even sharing relevant industry articles is a good way to show that you take learning seriously and are willing to share the good stuff.

Ensure Timely Follow Up

Nothing demonstrates professionalism and responsibility like timely follow up. When you’ve committed to someone, even if it’s just to share a resource, follow up. After you’ve made a contribution, check to see if there is more you can do. When you say you’ll get back to someone, get back to them without fail.

It’s much easier to influence stakeholders when you have a good reputation as a problem-solving team player who always has the latest, greatest know-how. Your reputation will open doors so that you can request meaningful input, bounce ideas around with those who have the power to implement them, and understand the kinds of questions that need to have answers before you are in the position to ask for stakeholder buy-in.

Sheila Callaham is an author, motivational coach, and longtime communications and change management professional. Sheila leverages the power of words to influence stakeholders and shape perceptions.

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