Building relationships with external stakeholders is critical. But these relationships must be regularly nurtured – meeting once a year is not enough. This seems daunting, but it can pay off in spades. As an example, 24 hours after Hurricane Floyd in 1999, we needed to secure an aerial patrol of the system. All flights were grounded, so I called my primary contact at the county OEM and asked if we could utilize the county chopper and without hesitation, he agreed. Then toward the end of the event, I was informed that we had a surplus 75 hot meals. So, I called my OEM friend to thank him again for the helicopter, and to offer up the 75 meals. He was delighted, and continued to periodically help me out for years thereafter. The key lesson is to make yourself available for external stakeholders, because you never know when you will need them in a pinch.
Insight from the Trenches: Mike D’Auria