Nina’s View: To build strong partnerships, you need to know your prospects’ and partners’ key goals and objectives and how they measure value.

A well-grounded relationship with your partners is fundamental—and that starts with understanding everything you can about them. This will help you build a holistic approach to align your organization’s passion points with theirs. The intersections will occur in exciting ways, and that’s where the opportunity comes to life.

1. Understand Your Organization’s Values

My experience is that organizations have a core set of principles and guiding forces that drive their partnership development. These are values across their entire ecosystem and ones that can help shape a proposal, new initiative, or major pillar for your collaboration.

Your organization’s business plan is a great place to start. Look for ideas and ways to engage externally. This way, you’re reaching across internal departments. You’re encompassing the entire team and truly broadening the scope of opportunities.

This internal alignment provides a strong foundation for external partnerships to grow and thrive. Plus, partner programs and initiatives borne from a collective effort are rooted in authenticity.

2. Shared Values Guide Strong Partnerships

Research can mean so many things. Basically, everything we do as partnership experts is research. It’s a central function of our work. But it’s surprising how many people don’t take the time to properly research their prospects and cultivate meaningful relationships. Understand their world by:

  • Listening. Reading. Taking notes.
  • Checking out all their communication channels and following them on LinkedIn and other official social media platforms.
  • Attending events where current or prospective partners are speaking.
  • Registering for Google alerts about their organization.
  • Reading their press releases and annual reports.
  • Looking at who serves on their Board of Directors and leadership team.

Tools like Google alerts have made staying aware of a partner’s public-facing announcements and activities much easier. Not only does it help when prospecting, but it’s also instrumental for staying well-informed on your corporate partners. If they’re going through a difficult time, be aware of that so you can reach out. If they scored a big win, help them celebrate.

Sometimes your contact at a larger corporation may not be fully aware of what’s happening in their own organization. By staying connected and aware, you can often find subtle ways to help them make new internal connections. This will only strengthen your bond.

3. Explore Shared Values Together

It’s important to regularly bring your partners together. Gathering and exploring shared values works wonders for bolstering engagement. An annual summit that brings people together face-to-face can strengthen connections not only between you and your partners, but also generate new relationships between them.

This type of interaction is so important for building and maintaining engagement. Remember to include less structured moments for partners to meet and interact along with larger presentations.

4. Rewarding Relationships Take Work

If you are careful and thoughtful in your approach to partnership development, hopefully you can avoid major challenges. But with any relationship, there will be obstacles. Whether a partner is going through a tough time, or a partnership opportunity didn’t bear the fruit that either participant imagined, disconnects and disappointments can happen.

If you maintain ongoing communication, when bad things happen, you’ll be able to refine and adapt rather than sever ties. Rewarding relationships take time, attention, and effort. And sometimes that means examining what’s not working. A personal conversation is the best approach to resolving this type of conflict. With transparency and communication, I believe most partnerships can be improved and reimagined to create better value for all.

How do you create shared value with your partners? I’d love to hear from you.

Image: “Mosaic in Amsterdamby Giulia May on Unsplash.