We offer a great course called "Building Strategic Relationships." One of its objectives is for participants to improve their ability to work more effectively across functions. We begin the class with an exercise that encourages people to begin thinking about their capacity to work well with people outside their own department. It's always interesting to see how people respond.
Then, we dive deeper into the meaning of the term stakeholder and what their motivation might be. We identify our core group of stakeholders, as well as those with whom we have more frequent interaction and limited interaction. We prioritize our lists and decide where to focus our time and energy . We use a case study to determine where subjects did well and where they could have done a better job interacting and building trust with colleagues.
We take an assessment that measures our influencing style to determine whether we are likely to use various techniques to persuade others to do something or to change their perspectives. Class members discuss ways to break down barriers and instead, to build bridges between departments or divisions. Among the suggestions is meeting somone for lunch or inviting them to share a coffee break. Why is this so effective? Because human beings are social animals. We tend to develop trust more easily when we have a chance to get to know someone in a relaxed setting.
In his book Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi advises us to "think of relationships you'll need tomorrow and start building them today." And he means genuine relationships, not the crude "networking" variety that resembles speed-dating.