partners in advocacy

6 Keys to Selecting Partners for Advocacy Work

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In a crowded policy environment it’s critical to align yourself with strong allies to bolster your efforts. But how do you ensure you are engaging with the best strategic partners for your cause? Do you pick partners who are similar to you? Or do you seek out allies who have differentiated credibility or access to networks you don’t?

NJ’s Chief Business Development Officer, Katie Collins, spoke with several of our Network Science Initiative (NSI) partners in the health care space, and gained unique insights into how they tackle building strategic partnerships and the associated obstacles.

Read on to learn six keys to building more effective partnerships in the advocacy space.

  1. Play a dual role to create a win-win
    Now more than ever, we as government affairs professionals find ourselves serving as a liaison between customers and policy—playing a dual role. Do the work to understand where each group is coming from, so you can drive compromise and arrive at a win-win policy recommendation.
  2. Look for a partner who can deliver data and evidence
    Choosing partners that not only have the data to establish credibility, but also the ability to communicate your points, is the best way to bridge the research and advocacy spaces. Find organizations that have a very strong skill set, policy research, data analytics, and the ability to synthesize information that’s usable and understandable.
  3. Consider atypical allies
    Too often we seek out partners who are just like us, or at least share the same point of view. Not everyone needs to have the same starting place. Your argument will be stronger and more credible if you have differing perspectives seeking the same end result. Work to understand the full spectrum of points of view, so you can develop policy positions that will meet the needs of multiple stakeholders. As an added bonus, working with new people will activate new networks and expand your credibility.
  4. Keep learning
    If you’ve been in an industry a long time, you may think you know all the stakeholders—but you may be leaving value on the table. Take a deeper look not only at the loudest voices, but at the hidden influencers, and how they’re knit together. Understanding the interconnectedness of the space puts you in a better position to achieve your objectives.
  5. Craft a thoughtful approach
    Understanding specific points of view carried by individuals is great, but knowing how to approach them is what truly helps you make progress. We engage with elected officials by using people profiles to break down where they are coming from, and apply that insight to craft messaging that will resonate with them.
  6. Know what you bring to the table
    Approaching advocacy work with a collaborative mindset from the start is the best way to shape policy. Coming from one point of view (and looking for partners that share your point of view) doesn’t work as well. Learn what other people want/need and come prepared to understand what you can bring to the table. If we can agree on the core, we can work around the edges.

To learn more about how National Journal can help you advance your advocacy work, sign up for NJ Amplified, our bimonthly insight where Katie Collins shares National Journal research to solve for challenges, relates conversations with government affairs executives, and more.