By Senior Consultant Jane Cook
The saying “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” is a line we’re all familiar with.
The original line was actually “I hate to be a kicker, I always long for peace, but the wheel that does the squeaking, is the one that gets the grease” by the 19th Century American writer Henry Wheeler Shaw in his poem “The Kicker” circa 1870.
A later take on the same line was: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease but the quacking duck gets shot” by Carl Sandburg.
As we approach a state election as early as March next year, and with Federal politics in seemingly permanent turbulent waters as well as the Christmas period now upon us, the next few months will see businesses looking to step up their networking efforts and trying to ensure their organisation is front of mind with key decision-makers when it counts.
The key to a successful government relations strategy is to make sure you’re the wheel that gets the oil rather than the duck that gets shot. To ensure you are the wheel, I would like to suggest several things you can do to ensure you’re the former rather than the latter.
The first point is to be clear about what you’re setting out to achieve. Why are you forming this relationship and what do you want out of it for your business?
If it’s just general networking and you don’t have any specific needs at a particular point in time that’s absolutely fine, but this needs to be made clear at the outset.
It’s perfectly appropriate to request to meet a key stakeholder to update them on your activities, indeed having established a good relationship will set you up well if in the future you are in need of additional support.
Nothing will put you on the back foot faster than leaving someone confused as to why they just attended a meeting and who you are.
This leads me to the next point, which is if you are seeking something specific, such as sponsorship; don’t be afraid to be up front about this.
Be across your brief and have data readily available and appropriately presented to inform your case and make it as easy as possible for the organisation or government office you’re meeting with to consider your request. The easier you make it for them the better off you will be!
This final point may seem incredibly obvious but is where we often see businesses fall short.
Be polite and prepared to work with the internal processes of the organisation you’re liaising with, regardless of how frustrating and protracted you may find the experience.
You may feel you have been down a particular road numerous times and regardless of how discussions proceed or what the final outcome is, Tasmania is far too small a place to gain a reputation for yourself that you may later have cause to regret.
It all seems very simple when you see it written here doesn’t it?
We teach it to our kids in their early schooling: to be polite, respectful, say please and thank you, ask questions and be informed. Yet somehow as life gets busy and business pressures can be overwhelming, these simple things get forgotten.
There are right and wrong ways to go about things and if you get the basics right you’ll find that the rest inevitably takes care of itself.