Advocacy 101 | The Garage Group

Advocacy 101

We’ve learned over time that building advocacy across an organization is one of the critical success factors for inside entrepreneurial ventures.

An advocate is someone that supports us and our initiatives.  The best advocates pro-actively build connections on our behalf, help us identify and then break barriers or work our way through obstacles, open doors of opportunity, walk through difficult or challenging situations with us, and (loudly) cheer when we are successful.

Advocates are not quite the same as mentors, who are more focused on helping us develop our careers, although oftentimes, a mentor can also play the role of an advocate.  But, we need advocates across the organization — both “up the chain” in more senior leadership roles, across the organization in key functional roles and even at seemingly lower levels of the organization.

A senior level advocate might help us to get a meeting with the board of directors or another senior leader who has access to resources.  He may lobby on our behalf to pave the way for resources or other support.  A peer advocate can help to bring specific functional expertise, connections or learning to our initiative.  Advocates from “lower level” roles often are amazing connectors for us — helping us navigate, find great pricing, fabulous vendor connections and ensuring we have support from experts and employees who may be critical in executional success of our venture.

Building advocacy is simple, but often overlooked.  Here are a few of our observations based on our own experience and what we see working well for others:

The most successful inside entrepreneurial ventures we’ve heard about have multiple advocates within the home organization as well as advocates within key vendor/partner companies and sometimes local universities, key industry specific thought leaders or trade organizations.  How are you building out a strong list of advocates to help carry your idea forward?

Photo licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 via Flickr user: acaben

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