A stakeholder is nothing special–just everything

A stakeholder is nothing special–just everything


“In the ground.” Photo by and uploaded to Flikr by Oakley Originals, accessed via Creative Commons Search. Thanks to all you gardeners and farmers who keep all my ag references real, and for indulging this soil-less gardener!

Here’s another post whose inspiration was provided by a client conversation with someone who is rapidly becoming a soul-colleague. I asked her to identify her stakeholders in her business. She sounded uncertain. I realized how organic it is for me nowadays to think in terms of stakeholders, and reached wayyyy back into my 20s when I was learning grassroots community organizing and grassroots (read: relationship) fundraising–and I thought stakeholders were those things maybe in the ground in the photo above.

“Stakeholder” was something of a buzzword at one time–maybe it still is. But it’s also a real word, with a really important meaning. It does not matter if you are a for-profit or a nonprofit entrepreneur: your stakeholders are everything to you. And in a way, they are nothing special.

That’s because a stakeholder is “just” someone who shares your interests and aims.

You see what I mean: we talk about them like having stakeholders is just a normal thing we have. But when you really think about who in your life shares your interests and aims, it’s probably a pretty small list!

In fact, the word interest contains a challenge: an inter+est is something that “is+between” you and someone else. To interest someone else means to get them to agree to put their attention where you have put yours.*

You see that you do this all the time. You agree to put your attention on stuff, it doesn’t just happen.

How do you decide to do that?

It’s worth asking yourself.

Now how do you get others to agree to put their attention on your stuff–your project, your company, your healing practice, your farm produce, your coaching and consulting practice (just for example)?

This is also worth asking.

And it’s worth comparing:

  • what makes me agree to give my attention to something?
  • what am I doing to get others to agree to do the same?
  • how can I make the second thing more effective? (assuming people are like me, which basically, they are)

This is the heart of relationship-building which is the heart of marketing, fundraising, and investment-raising. Why should they care? If you care, there’s a good chance they should…but why do you care? and what helps others care?

I recently sent a Valentine to some of RAISING CLARITY’s long-time stakeholders. In fact, the Valentine idea came about because we blogged about what a great idea it was for a soul-colleague of ours to do–and then realized we haven’t ever done it! So we did it. In the process, we realized there were a whole bunch of newer stakeholders we could not honestly send the same Valentine to…but we are working on a new one, a “mini-Valentine,” we’re calling it.

And we are next month going to offer both groups of stakeholders + our blog subscribers something special because gosh darn it, they are everything + special in this world to us.

What about you? and your work? Think on these things and write in to us in a comment to this post.
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