Talent Perspectives

Building Successful Partnerships:

What To Look For

Ross Statham, Editor, Talent Perspectives

April 8, 2019


††† Building partnerships (with other companies) is a great way to build your business and to penetrate new markets. The partner may be a large, multi-national company, a small company or fall somewhere in between.Why do companies of all sizes seek to partner? These are the main reasons I have observed:

         You may want to enter into a new market segment or even penetrate a specific client or clients

         You may wish to grow geographically, and this may be the easiest way to do it

         You may have been approached because you have specific expertise, or you approach someone because of their expertise

         It may be in your best long-term interest to learn how to better do things that can taught to you by your new partner

Isnít it all about the best deal I can negotiate? The short answer is ďno.ĒWhen I first started my own company I reached an agreement with a business partner to provide them with one of our top cybersecurity consultants on a multi-year project for a federal agency, and at a fair rate. We had spent a week finding the right candidate, working out rates and ensuring we had put a financially viable deal together.What happened next?About five weeks after our resource started work, the business partner hired our consultant away from us. When I called them on it, they responded, ďRead your agreement.Ē I should have paid more attention to what they were all about.  Now I know better.

Today my antenna is much more finely tuned than it used to be- and I am not afraid to walk away from proposed partnerships that don't fit our organization's way of doing business: open, transparent and honest.This is why I say to my team, ďitís not just about the compensation. Itís about the culture.Ē

Here are the indicators that my team and I look for in a partner:

         How candid are direct are they with you while in discussions?Are they realistic?Are they prone to hyperbole?In short, do you trust they and their statements?

         Do they pass your ďsniffĒ test? Does anything smell a bit off? (Iíve learned to trust my instincts; I believe my own subconscious is communicating things to me based on past experience and Iíve learned to pay attention; when I donít, I get burned.)

         Location and local culture can make a big difference in a team mate; Iíve found that companies in some parts of the country are easier and more straight-forward to work with than others. Local cultures effect how your partners think, act and perform on agreements.

         Learn about the background of the company and its leadership team. See where they came from and what theyíve done in the past.

         Look for common ground.Two of us on our team are veterans-- and we find that we almost always work more easily with other veteran-led teams.So find your own common ground and use it to your advantage.

Partnerships truly are the norm today, and Iíd encourage you to seek to develop your own database of trusted partners. I think youíll find itís a great way to build on each otherís strengths. I hope you found this brief article to be of help as you seek to grow your own business. As always, your comments to this article are appreciated, as are forwards to friends and colleagues you think may benefit.

If you found this article to be helpful, please let me know- and share it with others. All the best!......Ross Statham, Editor

Talent Perspectives: Insights for Busy Professions is a series of brief articles that help build winning teams, provide insight on talent and provide organizational development ideas.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and are (C) Dogwood Services Inc.


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