External Relationship Management for Workplace Leaders

CoachHub · 31 May 2023 · 7 min read

Many workplace leaders understand the importance of internal synergy and mustering their teams to collaborate effectively to achieve organizational goals. In shaping organizational strategy, it’s easy to overlook the impact of external relationships. Leaders may get all caught up in the internal operations of an organization, such that there’s little time left to focus on external relationships.

Successful leaders understand the impact of external relationship management and how it could significantly impact their mission and seek to strengthen it. In this guide, we explore what it is, examples, how to manage external relationships and the benefits that organizations can gain from it.

What is external relationship management?

Managing external relationships describes the process of identifying and maintaining a healthy interaction with outside stakeholders. These stakeholders are people whom your operations closely or remotely impact or whose operations closely or remotely impact your organization. Understanding this includes mapping out individuals and organizations who are within your external circle of influence and the degree to which they impact your goals and operations as an organization.

Some of these external stakeholders include the government and its regulatory bodies, financial institutions, legal bodies and consumer rights organization, media, suppliers, and sometimes, your competitors.

External relationship management

Examples of external relationships to prioritize

In pursuing your organizational goals, the following relationships can impact your overall outcomes. Maintaining a healthy relationship with them can transform your internal operations, such that they may give you access to firsthand information that can save you a lot of time and resources.

Government and regulatory bodies:

The government sets up policies that impact how different organizations function. Depending on the industry you’re in, your organization will be impacted by these policies in different ways. You also want to pay attention to the political atmosphere of the region of your operations, as this can also impact your organization. Most importantly your relationship with government agencies and regulatory bodies is pivotal.

Your organization may also seek to partner with the government on projects that align with your values and accentuates your goodwill. As much as possible you want to honor invitations, routine checks and courtesy visits. Maintaining this relationship is in the best interest of your organization, so it’s worth committing time to.

Financial institutions:

One critical relationship that organizations must maintain is with financial institutions. They can either operate as investors or creditors—an organization can leverage on such to receive more investments and expand its operations. Maintaining a relationship with an external financial analyst, for instance, can improve an organization’s PR if the analyst considers their financial performance a positive one.

Suppliers and competitors:

Your suppliers are critical to your internal operations, however beyond the business of supplying, maintaining a level of organizational rapport can be healthy for organizations. Many suppliers interact with other principal individuals that you might not have direct access to and can be a great source of information regarding price changes, new regulations, and others.

Competitor relationships may be the last thing you want to consider, but it may be necessary to form a collaboration to deal with a common business challenge. Maintaining this may be important as long as it helps to achieve your overall goals in business.

Legal bodies and consumer rights organizations:

While legal bodies work to ensure that your operations align with existing laws, consumer rights organizations seek to enforce ethical ways to ensure consumer satisfaction. As a corporate entity maintaining the legal side of your operations can help you avoid pitfalls where necessary and ensure that your strategies are within the legal framework outlined for your institution. Paying attention to consumer rights groups can also help to tick the right boxes in production and win the trust of your consumers.


Your organization may need to frequently be in touch with the media and maintain open communication with them. In this age of information and in-depth journalism, opening up your lines of communication and providing relevant information to the media when and when necessary, can positively impact your organization’s outlook.

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How can workplace leaders manage external relationships?

Depending on the role you occupy in your organization either as the CEO or COO, you may feel overwhelmed adding external relationships to the many things you already have to do in your internal operations. Here are ways to simplify your external relationship and effectively manage them.

Know which relationship is pivotal to your organization’s goals:

As a workplace leader, you’re likely to be the face of the organization. Many external institutions may seek to have a relationship with you, excluding those whom you already maintain a relationship with. To handle the pressure, think long-term—assess how each relationship can help you achieve your goals as an organization.

At the heart of your decision should be the interest of the organization—how do you want your brand to be perceived and how does this perception help your brand achieve its goals and objectives? This helps you to know what relationships to prioritize.

Delegate to a different team:

To keep your external relations functional, you might need to set up a team to help you oversee it. Since you can’t possibly attend to everything all at once, your external relationship management team, headed by an external relations manager can help to offset that workload. They’ll be tasked with bringing only what’s relevant to your table while ensuring that the relationship they maintain can improve the organization’s ROI or goodwill.

Simplify your time to simplify your life:

One of the things you would need to do is allot time on your calendar to attend to external relations in person. Doing this can send a strong message to your external stakeholders that they matter to your organization. Working with a coach can help to improve your time management skill as a workplace leader and help to simplify balancing your internal and external relationships.

Charge teams with external relationship management at their level:

At this juncture, all teams from top-to-bottom must understand where their work overlaps with external operations. Sales and marketing teams for instance must be able to develop great strategies to manage relationships that spotlight the organization. They may be tasked with identifying events where the organization can partner as a sponsor, such that it spotlights the organization to potential customers. The business development team can also be charged with spotting and maintaining relationships with key external stakeholders.

Encourage external and industry networking among employees:

While you may be too busy to attend all of those networking events, encouraging key employees to do so can help sharpen their productivity. When your employees understand the need to prioritize industry networking events, they’re likely to be exposed to new knowledge and resources that are relevant to internal operations. Also, they can represent the organization at such events, and foster goodwill with other industry players.


Why external relationship management is important for workplace leaders

Workplace leaders understand the need to prioritize what’s in the best interest of their organization. To do this, no area of benefit must be left unattended, hence it’s important to prioritize external relationships to foster organizational success. Some of the benefits of doing this include the following.

Access to new business leads:

One important benefit of external relationships over internal relationships is that you’re likely to have access to new business leads and areas of opportunity. With a robust network of external contacts, you can leverage a thriving relationship with such contacts to discover new areas to explore as an organization.

Identify new acquisitions:

Another important benefit is that you can have access to information on potential acquisitions that are necessary to expand your business operations. Such information can come from a key external stakeholder like your financial advisor. Your suppliers may be able to provide information on new products, machinery or equipment that are cost-saving and highly efficient.

Network with key decision-makers:

Great external relationship management can open you up to a network of key decision-makers in your industry or in government. This can come in handy when seeking to pool in investments, engage in goodwill projects, and the like. It allows you access to critical partnerships to execute major projects that your organization may not be able to execute single-handedly.

Community loyalty:

As an organization, maintaining community loyalty may be important to your organization. A great external relationship can help to build significant community loyalty for your brand. This can positively impact other internal operations, such as sales and R&D— because they are more likely to respond to surveys from your organization.

Internal problem-solving:

Ever felt stuck trying to solve an internal challenge? A quick call to someone on your external network can save you weeks of research. Once you’ve identified who on your external network is likely to be able to provide the answer you need, it’s easier to reach out if you’ve been nurturing the relationship.

Final words

Understanding the critical role that external relationship management plays is important. As workplace leaders, prioritizing key external stakeholders, building external relationship management teams and seeking the help of a coach to prioritize your time, are all important ways to manage your external relationships.

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Samuel Olawole
Samuel Olawole is a freelance copywriter and content writer who specializes in creating exciting content across a wide range of topics and industries. When he’s not writing, you can find him traveling or listening to good music.

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