Engaging Business As Your Partner
Michele Martin, The Bamboo Project, Inc.
“What made you say ‘yes’ to attending this
5 years HR/recruitment for
2 Fortune 500 companies
20 years in WFD
17 years as small business
owner using consultative
All slides and handouts
Follow-up resources/information for implementation
Builds from April workshops on consultative/relationship
Recognize you’re already building partnerships.
Open a dialogue about how we can engage in more
strategic, long-term relationship building to deepen
**Think about how this info applies to building
partnerships with others in the system.
What does a “thriving partnership” with business look
Stages of Engagement—From “How do you do?” to
Ideal Partner Profiles
Offers and Engagement Strategies
At Your Table
When you think of a “thriving partnership
with business”—what does that look like?
How would your businesses describe it?
(How do you know?)
What are the key characteristics of a
Stages of Engagement
From “Who Are You?” to “I’ll Do Anything for You!”
Way to look at entire
Different messages, types
of information and levels of
contact for each stage.
We must be strategic for
Phase 1: KNOW
First impressions count!
How do customers find out about you? Are you capturing
your leads so you can follow up?
How inviting/welcoming are your interactions, website,
Phase 2: LIKE
Do you seem to “get” their issues, needs, etc.?
Do your interactions seem customized/personalized to
Have you overcome any initial negative perceptions
they may have about working with a government
Phase 3: TRUST
Just because they like you doesn’t mean they TRUST you!
Are you knowledgeable and credible?
Do you ask questions that make them think and that help
them develop insights?
Do you connect to their aspirations, as well as their
Do you provide them with resources, information,
connections, materials, etc. that add value—whether or
not they are related to your services?
Phase 4: TRY
What could they “sample” to entice them to actually
What can we do that minimizes their investments of time
and/or their perceived risks?
When they’re ready to participate—post on Job
Gateway, participate in a Job Fair, work on a
recruitment event, work on a committee, etc.
Expectations are everything! What expectations are you
setting? What are their expectations?
How are you DELIVERING on your promises and
DELIGHTING customers with the experience?
Every aspect of the process will influence their opinion—
can either move you forward or 3 steps back.
Phase 6: REPEAT
Use the same services?
Use new services (cross-selling)?
Engage in new activities?
How are you engaging with customers to uncover new
needs and respond?
How are you continuing to engage with them to connect
to relevant resources, information and people—even
when they aren’t currently “buying” from you?
Phase 7: REFER
How do you make it easy for them to advocate and
How are you engaging them so well they are willing to
invest time in planning/co-creating with you?
What opportunities do you see in these
phases for us to improve our partnerships
How can we use these phases to think
more strategically about our interactions
and partnership-building with business?
Ideal Customer Profiles
Who Should We Partner With?
Some Key Elements
Broad Description—Industry, Role in Company
Unique Goals, Problems and “Hot Buttons”
Hesitations and Objections
Best ways to engage
How do these ideal customers find you?
What keeps them coming back?
What do they look for in a partnership?
We have lots of data. But does it
really inform? And is it the
information that helps business
partners make more informed
decisions about their businesses?
What makes information useful?
Relevant to key challenges, problems and aspirations
Timely, accurate and reflects “real-life” conditions.
Assists in thinking through an issue and/or making
Piques curiosity and learning
Provided in preferred format(s) and according to stage
At Your Table
How does the information you provide help a business
Solve a problem or challenge?
Achieve their aspirations (personally and professionally)?
Develop insight into their situations and into the future?
Learn something new and relevant?
Become more successful?
How are you synthesizing and repackaging data to
provide insights to business?
How are you ensuring that information is relevant, timely
useable, and in your customers’ preferred formats?
Should we have a meeting?
Is there a need to share information?
Does the information to be shared require
Do we need to meet to make a decision?
Who Should Be There?
Has information or knowledge to share
Has decision-making authority
Vital to the issue at hand
If They Aren’t Attending. . .
This is feedback!!
What do they need to make meetings
something they WANT to attend?
Invite curiosity with questions
Provide advance materials that reduce threat and invite
Greeting at the door
Presence--2-minute “clean slate” drill
How do you make new people feel welcome?
“We surveyed your needs and identified your top two
priorities. In this meeting, we want to explore what it
would mean for us to be “best in class” in these two
areas and identify the most important next steps we can
take to meet these expectations.”
“In our region, businesses with 20 or fewer employees
make up 40% of business. In this meeting, we want to
explore the question: ‘What are your greatest challenges
to thriving as a business and how can we help you
address those challenges?’”
“Why did you say yes to this meeting?”
“When it comes to the purpose of this meeting, what do
you care about and why?”
“What question or concern do you bring to the meeting
that needs to be addressed?”
What are your hopes/fears for this meeting?
“What strengths or gifts do you bring to this meeting?”
Create shared view of reality and environment for
How do other people understand the situation?
What’s the bird’s eye view? What’s the view on the ground?
Make sense of that reality
Neither flee from nor prematurely resolve that reality.
Present info (<20 minutes) and then ask:
What did you hear?
What do you want to learn more about?
Elicit People’s Dreams
What do people REALLY care about?
Talk about the future as if it were the present.
Use the arts—engaging the 5 senses creates new visions
that don’t emerge otherwise.
Take a break—Gallery walks, Walk & Talks
Who will make the decision?
How will the decision be made?
What will be decided?
Attend to the End
How you end creates the platform for the next stage.
Summarize discussion and decisions made
Roadmap to what’s next
Time to reflect on the meeting experience
Did we do the work we needed to in this meeting?
Was this time well-spent? If so, what worked? What
What do we need to do to make sure that our next
meeting is time well-spent?
Whom would you like to recognize for their contributions
to this meeting?
What accomplishments would you like to celebrate?
What questions does this open up for you about
how you currently structure your meetings?
How could you use the “meeting canoe” to
build relationships and deepen your
Think about. . .
How can we help people build their connections and
How can we help them develop insight and plan for the
How can we share learning?
How can we enable collective action?
How could we partner with business to offer these?
Asking More Powerful Questions
What gives life to our partnerships?
What would it look like if our region was thriving for
What areas of impact would bring the most positive
change to our community?
How can we cultivate innovation in our community?
How can we cultivate entrepreneurship in our
What trends are shaping our community and how can
we respond, rather than react?
At Your Tables
Which of these event ideas intrigues you?
How could you use these event ideas to
deepen relationships and build partnerships in
How could you partner with business to offer
Strategic Business Intelligence
Working with quantitative and
qualitative information to identify and
respond to customer needs/gaps, look
for new opportunities and operate more
effectively and efficiently.
How do we go deeper than
What are we learning about. . .
Individual customers? Industries? Across industries?
Business issues beyond workforce issues:
Regular Conversations About. . .
What are we learning?
What does this tell us about:
Changes to customer profile(s) or focus on new markets?
Issues with stages of engagement?
Issues with execution?
Need for new connections?
Share Information with. . .
“Here’s what we’re learning from our customers”
“This is what we’re hearing from healthcare providers”
“We asked and you responded!”
Keys to Long-Term Partnerships
Focus on deepening relationships, over time.
Focus on “needfinding” and aspiration
identification--from customer perspective.
Focus on providing ongoing value based on
customer needs and aspirations.
Focus on ways to connect, deepen insights,
innovate and create alignment.
Skills We Need to Grow
Content Curation and Sense-making
Creative meeting facilitation
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