Originally posted on LinkedIn. If you want to read and/or comment there, please click here.
Over the years I have been asked for advice on what a person should consider if they want to excel at building impactful partnerships. I get this question most from entrepreneurs and people interested in a career in partnerships/business development. For me, a great partnership is about finding the intersection of wants between two or more entities to create value for the supply chain of stakeholders. I would argue that everybody is in the partnership business. Whether you are an entrepreneur, sales reps, work in customer service or formally have the title of partnerships, if you are dealing with internal or external stakeholders then you in the partnership business.
After 20 years in the partnership business, (running my own start-up, running a national agency and leading commercial and M&A partnerships for Yellow Pages), my first piece of advice is that partnerships are like icebergs. What people see on the surface are the press releases, the conferences or what I call the external “fun stuff”. What most people don’t realize about successful partnerships is that there is a lot of work done on the back-end. Partnerships can be extremely rewarding, but you have to realize that some partnerships can take weeks, months or even years to build. (You can read my partnership stats during my career with Yellow Pages Canada, here)
What I am sharing below are some things that have made me successful in my career. They are in no particular order of importance because they all play a role when I am thinking about forming a partnership. In some cases, such as a minor commercial agreement these will be quickly thought though, whereas, in other cases some of these make take days, weeks or even months to work through.
If you have comments on what works for you or questions, please add them or ask in the comments. My intention for this article is to stimulate thought.