How to Map Stakeholders: Five Techniques

November 30, 2018

Stakeholder mapping is a critical step in your stakeholder engagement strategy so that you can identify and track who your most important stakeholders are. However, there are a variety of stakeholder mapping techniques based on different identifying factors. When deciding how to map your stakeholders, consider these five techniques:

1. By Issues

One way to map stakeholders is by the issues they impact in your organization.

By mapping stakeholders by issues, you can quickly answer the question, for example, “What key stakeholders do we have on renewable energy?” This way, if new legislation is introduced, you can quickly sort for the key stakeholders with whom you need to communicate and engage.

With a new Congress sworn in in January, members are assigned to new committees and you may have new stakeholders you need to be aware of, so take the time to tag stakeholders to your issues. When legislation gets moving, you’ll be prepared to act.

Additionally, by tagging members by issue, you can target specific organization updates or invitations based on issue area. This will allow you to both refine and specialize your communications with stakeholders based on the topics that are most important to them.

Then, if you log your meeting notes with stakeholders throughout the year, you can quickly share with your leadership team exactly how many interactions you had on each issue based on which stakeholders you met with.

2. By Team Member Relationships

Another way some organizations map their stakeholders is by which team member is the primary relationship owner with each stakeholder.

To map your team’s relationships, build a spreadsheet that has the stakeholders as rows, and then add your team members’ interactions with stakeholders as a series of columns, with an additional column that designates the primary assignment. With this technique for mapping your stakeholders, you can assign or reassign team members directly in the sheet after evaluating who has the strongest relationship based on interactions with a particular stakeholder.

3. With an Interest-Influence Matrix

Each of your stakeholders has a certain level of interest in an issue as well as a level of influence on that issue. With knowledge of this information, you can build a matrix mapping interest versus influence, providing you with four categories of stakeholders—high interest and influence, low interest and influence, high interest/low influence, and low interest/high influence.

Then, use this knowledge to prioritize which stakeholders you should be engaging with. Your first priority should be those with high interest and high influence—they’re engaged on the issue, and they can help move the needle. Your second priority should be those who are of high influence, but low interest. With these stakeholders, spend time communicating your message about the impact of your organization’s work and sharing data on the way the issue impacts their legislative district or state in order to move them to the high-interest level.

4. With a Tiered System

With a tiered system, your organization should give every stakeholder a number 1-3, with tier one being your biggest champions, and tier 3 being the least engaged stakeholders. You may use a subjective numbering system to determine which tier a stakeholder belongs in, or set strict parameters to what constitutes a tier 2 versus a tier 1 stakeholder—such as the number of events they’ve attended that you hosted or the number of one-on-one meetings with your team. Then, measure how stakeholders move up tiers and track which of your organization’s efforts are effective at moving stakeholders to new tiers. Are certain team members especially effective at increasing the engagement level of lower tier stakeholders? Do certain actions make a stakeholder more likely to increase their involvement in your issue?

5. As Champion, Neutral, Detractor

By mapping stakeholders as champions, neutral, or detractors, you can see everyone that has an influence on your organization’s issues and which direction they lean. Using these tags also makes it easier to distinguish different messages for different stakeholders. The language you use with champions to support an issue you care about is likely different than that you use with detractors to sway them, so with a clean mapping system, you can make sure each stakeholder is receiving the correct message.

Best Practice:

Regardless of which mapping technique your organization chooses for its stakeholders, or a combination of all of the above, start the year with a unified tracking system so that each individual on your team can always have the most up-to-date information on where each stakeholder stands on your issues and your organization. Logging meetings, emails, and other engagements with these stakeholders will help make sure the entire team has all the necessary information to map stakeholders to their correct category used in your chosen mapping technique. With an organized stakeholder mapping technique that tracks ongoing engagement, your organization can pull insights about relationships with those that matter most.

See how Quorum can help map and track your stakeholder engagement. Request a demo of Quorum Stakeholder.

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