Identifying and Cultivating Champions
Building a Robust Network of Supporters
A champion is a change agent, a person uniquely skilled at influencing and rallying others to support a shared cause. Champions are critical for projects. They act to inspire, encourage, and support your efforts. Champions are often seen as high-level corporate leaders but can also be individuals with a passion for the topic, the end goal, or for you or your organization. Their enthusiasm cultivates a community willing to commit the time and resources to help you reach your goals.
Finding a champion can be as easy as looking at your staffing structure, your committee members, or your personal network. When identifying champions ask the following questions:
- Who appears to care deeply about the issues?
- Who seems most capable at influencing others? Look for someone that others look to for direction and whose advice you value.
- Who appears to speak passionately and attract an audience?
- Who has a large network of contacts who speak highly of them?
Once you’ve identified a small selection of possible champions, schedule time to speak with them one-on-one on a regular basis.
Learn what they value most and why. Identify what causes, goals, and motivations influence them and what information they need to make decisions.
When you find an opportunity to work on a project that closely aligns with your Champion’s interests invite them to engage in a leadership or thought leader role. Provide them with a clear vision of the issues, the project, and what success looks like. Ask them to help you amplify your message to reach a broader audience and invite them.
A champion is a valuable ally who will use their personal network and influencing skills to help achieve project goals. Meet with them regularly to gain their feedback and share with them the status of the project. Look for opportunities for the champion to assist you navigate hurdles and lean on them to inspire and encourage the group when needed.
When the project is completed, acknowledge the important role the champion played and encourage continued collaborations by offering them future opportunities and visibility for the role they play in promoting your work.