“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu” is a pollical saying of uncertain provenance. In the world of stakeholder management, it usually encourages you to find your way to the decision-making table.
Not every table is accessible, however. You are either a member of parliament or you are not. And there is no way to sit at that table if you’re not elected. So, the best stakeholder strategies are those that help you find support in parliament. Usually, this means you’re trying to stay off or get off the menu.
Lobbyists believe tables that prepare the decisions have more influence than the formal decision-making bodies. And you don’t need to be elected to sit at them. However, there will be a lot of competition to get a seat.
Switching the point of view, how do you know who to allow at your table? You’re giving someone a lot of influence. But that’s not your biggest concern. Getting people to leave the table again is a lot harder. They might find support from others worried about being kicked out. They will kick a huge public fuss that embarrasses the people you’re working for.
Be very, very picky about who you invite for dinner.