Business partnerships are formed because the two parties hope that as a united force they can produce much better results than on their own. But making a partnership work calls for perfecting many business skills, and not everyone can do it naturally. In order to learn to be a partner it is important to remember the essentials of working in a team with other strong players.
1. Learn to communicate genuinely and create mutually beneficial opportunities for partners
Partnerships are all about combining mutual interests and cooperation to reach the long-term goal of both parties gaining something valuable. You have a chance to succeed with a partnership only if the desire to benefit both parties is genuine. Manipulations and lies can be sensed from a mile, and you cannot use partners to fulfill your selfish agenda.
2. Match your level of quality with theirs
Your website, presence in the social media, marketing efforts, the level of your service as well as your personal level of business integrity preferably has to match the level of your partner. If there is a lagging in any of the spheres, you should make the necessary improvements to catch up. That is why partnerships are amazing in strengthening both parties, as they make the weaker link stronger. If you are trying to pull something off that is lower in quality, it can ruin the partnership forever because it reflects on the reputation of the partner.
3. Find partners in the same or correlating niche or industry
Your pitch or offering should be relevant to the partner and add something to their existing business. Everything you do should work for their target audience. Ideally, you should cater to the same market of clients with a similar set of unmet needs. At the same time, even though you are in one niche, you are not competing but complementing each other, making the customer experience complete. So do your research to find out exactly what it is your potential partner does, sells and promotes because once you partner up, you become part of one project, and everything the partnership entails has an effect on your business too.
4. Stay away from pushers who try to grab the bull by the horns without deep understanding of what partnerships mean
Taking the time to think over such important business deals as a partnership is normal, and is a sign of someone taking it seriously. There are always players in business and especially in IT who are quick to become part of any partnership program, without understanding the essence of the project. If you are ready to ‘babysit’ such an immature player, you can make a profit only in the long run, when you have done a lot of work with them. But at the same time, this can be a great time waster, and there is no guarantee that they are not going to abandon the partnership in the end. So try to keep your expectations realistic and don’t be afraid to end an unproductive partnership, where you feel the partner is not fully comprehending what they are in to do.
5. Build a simple yet deeply thought-out partnership strategy of gradual partner relationship development
From the first letter addressed to the potential partner to the official signing of partnership documents and starting the first project together, you need a strategy. The key to success is a well-prepared, simple and easy-to-understand document, describing its essence, the benefits of the partnership and the cornerstones of business relationship development with your company. Your offer should demonstrate tangible gain for the partner and prove that it will be advantageous for the partner first, and then only for you. The documents should be simple and short. It is sometimes difficult to fit the format of the executive summary but it is often more than enough. This is the case where less is more.
6. Turn your customers into salespeople who will promote you brand
Your customer referrals can be an effective way to tap into your current customer base and explore new revenue streams. Positive testimonials attract new partners, and for some people opinions of their peers are more valuable than all the marketing campaigns in the world. Word of mouth is very important when it comes to creating a positive image of a company, and in a strong partnership, you work with people who can give references to your company to very powerful players.
7. Be tactful, diplomatic and avoid seeming needy or desperate
Any sign of being overly excited about the partnership or being too in-your-face about it can scare the partner away for good. A partnership is called a partnership because it is a union between equal players. If that is not the case, not only will you lose the partnership, but it will never be a possibility to restore trust again. Even though you may be an outgoing person telling jokes left and right, when you do partnership work it is important to keep a respectful distance that adds a degree of seriousness to the process.
8. Predict hidden challenges and protect yourself legally
Many partnerships start with unnecessary enthusiasm and overconfidence, where both parties are ready to work hard to reach their goals, only to run out of steam when encountering a few hurdles along the way. Taking work to heart is good, but too much passion can make people’s judgments unrealistic, so the sooner the rosy glasses are put away, the better. Check whether all the legal papers grounding the partnership are up-to-date and within the current regulations. Whether you have a personal relationship with a potential partner or you have just met, you need to back yourself up legally and make sure you can protect your interests in court if necessary. Also, pay attention to how the partner reacts to the process to note any red flags, like the lack of desire to sign legal documentation or discuss possible difficulties. Make sure you have a plan B, C and D.
9. Learn to compromise and give up some of your positions for the common gain
As you may have heard a hundred times, partnerships are about compromise (isn’t that what all married people say?). There will be times in a partnership when you have to put the interests of your own company on hold, if that benefits the partnership as a whole. Be prepared for the day when your ego might have to take a backseat.
10. Alternate Avenues
In order to create more awareness about your business and bring about new customer opportunities, it is vital to look for different methods of reaching your potential partners. You can start a lecture series on a popular video site or an article column in a respectful professional network that can take you to the corporations you want to work with, business events in your niche and useful contacts. Today it is all about creating a reputation for yourself by making sure the world knows your expertise, learns from it and is also drawn to you because you bring innovative ideas to the table and create a buzz for your business in a truly quality way.
Following the tips above may help you build a strong foundation for your business partnership for many years to come. And in the process, your company will evolve and develop in exciting ways, producing results that could never be achieved if you worked without a partner.