I live for the “aha!” moment. One of the greatest compliments I’ve received in my career is that I have the unique ability to see opportunities and possibilities that no one else sees. While I’d love to say this is my superpower, in reality it’s because I’ve been there. Stuck in the muck.
First of all, you can’t do this alone. No partnership department, or person, can be effective in a silo. That’s when you start spinning your wheels. It is essential that your organizational leadership, board of directors, team and stakeholders are all involved and have a constructive way to be a part of this process. It’s in these conversations, and sometimes tough ones, where I begin to find the partnership spark.
I’ve seen a lot—funding issues, political pressure, internal misalignment, etc. that can hamper this process. So, if you feel stuck, try these three tips:
Think about internal AND external relevance. Why do these relationships matter? Strategic partnerships and alliances need to be understood and valued internally to have success externally. Get the entire team involved.
Be on a mission to develop relationships—and not just the usual suspects. Research and cultivate existing and new opportunities that speak to your organization’s future.
Build and maintain trust. Don’t simply expect your partners to understand how to maximize the impact of the relationship. Transparent and regular communication is critical, as are opportunities for open dialogue. When’s the last time you hosted a focus group for not only current, but also dropped or “never joined” stakeholders?
These guideposts have helped me identify partnership growth opportunities and possibilities that could have easily been overlooked. When you follow these steps, you will begin to see new patterns. Whether hidden or obvious, this is the beginning of finding your “aha!”.