When meeting the Mayor…..
One of my favourite Comic Relief sketches is Catherine Tate playing a schoolgirl meeting Tony Blair. She keeps asking the Prime Minister who’s the most famous person he’s ever met, and then tells him that her most famous person is Ross Kemp.
It is easy to waste the opportunity when meeting a senior politician.
At London’s City Hall, I saw many businessmen come face-to-face with the Mayor or senior officials and more than often, the conversations lacked a clear ask or message. The mistake is understandable – most assume that policy ideas are already fully formed and set in stone. But if you get your message right, you can open new doors for your business and your sector.
The first step is to understand what Government officials can not do for your business.
They will seldom commit to procuring your product – procurement procedures are strict and clearly advertised online. They will not be able to endorse your product. By all means, make the offer for them to visit your premises or meet your staff – they may be looking for a venue/interesting opportunity for a press event.
But in order to make the most of an opportunity to present your ideas to political leaders/senior officials, here is a list of what you can do:
-Explain what your company does and what makes it different in a very concise way
-Then be ready to say “If there is one thing you could do for us in this sector, it is…”
-Deciding what this one thing is, requires a detailed understanding of the official powers and policy remit in that situation
-Understand clearly which powers sit with local, regional and national agencies and target your message accordingly
-Detail how your idea will increase job growth, cut red tape or be popular among workers in your sector, rather than simply good for your particular business
-Finally, ask for the name of someone in the organisation who you could follow up with
Remember, your objective is to get a positive reaction, not to pin down a politician on the details. If all goes well, you will have left them with a soundbite or a concept that they can use in future, and they have hopefully left you with the name of a policymaker in the organisation that can engage with you in more detail.