We’re all stronger in numbers, and that’s why building strategic partners is incredibly beneficial for you to do either by yourself, or for your company. Strategic partners are individual professionals or companies that you buddy up with in order to mutually benefit each other. Think of the age-old phrase: you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. Building these relationships can help your business grow and scale by partnering strategically with others. When a partnership makes sense (think: Lululemon and a yoga studio), both parties benefit. Let’s talk it out.
Grow referrals, grow trust. You’ve created a smart business that offers a specific product or service to your customers, but a customer comes to you needing something you can’t offer. What do you say? A simple, “No, sorry. We don’t do that” is never the right response. Instead, you should try and refer them to a company or another service you trust. Example, you’re a marketing firm that doesn’t do web design. Have some relationships with designers you know and trust to refer your customers to, and when that web design company has customers that need marketing, they refer them back to you. This is also a win-win for you because your customers will build a deeper relationship with you and trust you with their business, because they know you care. Write a list of services your customers are often looking for that your business doesn’t quite offer, and build relationships with people or companies that do offer them. Perhaps they have a referral program to give you a percentage of the sale, or they give your customers a discount off their services. Work this out and feel good about referring your customers. Increase sales and awareness An easy win for having strategic partnerships is to help you sell and cross-promote your business with other businesses. If you do search engine optimization, team up with someone who does social media marketing to win that client. If you have a product, see what businesses in the area would benefit from having your product in their store and their advertising on your site. Sharing is caring on social If you’re someone who is sharing a lot of content on social media, or a business in a niche that is writing blogs and trying to position yourself as an expert, find other people doing the same thing and team up with them to share each other’s posts. To rule on social, you want to be sharing other peoples’ content as much as you share your own in order to position yourself as a thought leader, so find people you like, trust, respect, and agree with, and ask them to work something out where you share a certain number of each other’s posts per week. Find business opportunities for each other Depending on how deep you want your partnerships to go, it’s important to build a relationship by throwing business opportunities their way when you find them. If you meet someone at a networking event who is looking for an event planner, give them your friend’s card and do an email introduction to the both of them. By encouraging business opportunities for your partners, you’re not just building your relationship with them, you’re also strengthening your relationship with other people. You’ll be the go-to person when someone needs a referral, and you’ll be top of mind when they have an opportunity that matches your skills. Check-in on the relationship Just like any relationships, it’s important that your strategic partnerships are all about mutual understanding and respect. Take note from time to time if you are beginning to feel like the relationship is one-sided. If you are, reevaluate that partnership or have a meeting and discuss if it makes sense to continue working together. It’s okay to have partnership “break-ups” if it’s not working out. As you begin to build partnerships, be clear about what is required by both parties. The clearer, the better. Recap what was discussed via phone in a clear email, touch base as often as you can and have quarterly coffee meetings to see how things are going for both of you. Strategic partnerships are great when they work with you and for you, so make sure they feel right and feel good.