Developing Community Support

Tips for gaining and maintaining third-party endorsements for your organization.

By Hank Moore, Corporate Strategist

Everyone needs a friend to speak on their behalf. Especially when things get tough, it’s nice to have someone to count on.

Companies—like individuals—must bank support. Times to call for endorsements inevitably arise. The time to build bridges is today...not when crisis strikes.

In selling goods and services, third-party support may include past and present clients, suppliers, and industries affected by your customers.

In effecting policies and disposition toward your doing business, liaisons must be established with elected officials, the judiciary, regulatory agencies, the public sector, advocate groups, and private-sector opinion makers.            

Most companies realize the impact of community support, including various socio-economic and ethnic groups. Cause-related marketing, environmental sensitivity, and meaningful “giving back to the community” are essential for the coming years.

These recommendations are offered for gaining and maintaining third-party endorsements:

  • Make lists of your company’s current friends and enemies. Update them regularly.
  • Determine why friends support you...and what would happen if their backing were lost.
  • Understand why some people and groups oppose you. Ascertain what would have prevented their objections and what it would take to turn them around.
  • List who you want to win as friends and with whom you are most afraid of becoming enemies. Analyze what your competitors are doing to win friends and build coalitions.
  • Foresee what would happen if you sat still and did nothing.
  • Project the financial and other benefits of proactive building of credible third-party endorsements.
  • Make this initiative a primary responsibility for top management.
  • Retain outside counsel with demonstrated expertise in issues management and forecasting, community relations, cause-related marketing, minority relations, government relations, and grassroots constituency building.

Third-party support can move mountains when you need it the most...or it can wreak havoc on your bottom line and the future in which you do business. Be honest about your current status. Take stock of opportunities. Make decisive actions, and reap future rewards.                                       

Elevator Etiquette Reflects Business

Elevators in office buildings are microcosms of society—and a good way to get in touch with the community. You learn a lot about good and bad manners in them. In a confined setting, folks must put their best feet forward.

Here are some tips for elevator etiquette:

  • When the door opens, departing passengers should be allowed to get off the car. Those waiting to get on the elevator should step aside and allow it to empty.
  • Remember that people are overly sensitive to “their space” in elevators. Anything closer than 18 inches makes people nervous. Passengers should equally juxtaposition themselves throughout the elevator.
  • Friendly conversation makes everyone feel more at ease. Do not stare at the ceiling or the buttons. Make eye contact, smile, and bid greetings. Kindnesses are usually returned.
  • Avoid deep conversations about business. Don’t mention names in a critical way. You never know who might overhear something sensitive.
  • Avoid off-color jokes and conversations about highly personal subject matter. That embarrasses other people and is not polite conversation to hold in public.
  • If you are making a delivery or bringing containers up to your own office, wait for an elevator that does not contain passengers. That avoids inconveniencing them and you.
  • If children accompany you, do not allow them to play with the buttons or disturb other passengers.
  • If it’s your own office building, you’ll recognize familiar faces. Introduce yourself as a building neighbor. Establish a kinship. You may need to call upon fellow tenants for favors.
  • Don’t hesitate to tell folks who you are and what your company does. Never underestimate the potential for a business referral.
  • Remember the boundaries of elevators. In tight quarters, courtesies are appreciated and usually returned.

A regular contributor to www.trainingmag.com,Hank Moore has advised 5,000-plus client organizations, including 100 of the Fortune 500, public sector agencies, small businesses and nonprofit organizations. He has advised two U.S. Presidents and spoke at five Economic Summits. Moore advises companies about growth strategies, visioning, strategic planning, executive leadership development, Futurism, and Big Picture issues that profoundly affect the business climate. He conducts company evaluations and performance reviews. He creates the big ideas, mentors the board members, reorganizes the corporate culture and anchors the enterprise to its next tier. The Business Tree is Moore’s trademarked approach (and the title of his current book published by Career Press) to growing, strengthening, and evolving business, while mastering change. For more information, visit http://www.hankmoore.com.

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