How To Forge Effective Partnerships

Ditching The Lone Ranger Mentality

When you hear the word “partner,” what comes to your mind? I think of classic Western movies, where all the cowboys refer to one another as “partner.” Or more accurately, “pardner.”

In those old movies, the stalwart hero always rides alone. 

While this may work in the wild, wild west, don’t ask that cowboy to go into entrepreneurship. His “Lone Ranger” mentality will trip him up. 

Even the Lone Ranger had a faithful horse and a trusty sidekick. We all need partners in a variety of shapes and sizes.

The classic definition is somebody who works alongside you toward a mutual goal, as with a partner in business. We certainly need those, but we should also expand our definition of “partner.”

People who buy from you are not just customers, but also partners. An ideal buying relationship is one where both parties have their goals advanced. Anything less than that exploits at least one of the people involved.

People who sell to you are partners. They should care more about your ultimate success than making a quick buck. I would rather work with a service provider who earnestly wants me to win, long-term, than someone who hands me all of their neat gadgets and then shouts “Hi ho, silver!” and rides off into the sunset.

Partners are also people who refer customers to you, exchange services with you, consult with you, and prepare your coffee on the way into town.

The only constant is that no one does business in isolation. Neither should you!

We all get by with a little help from our friends. This season on my “What’s The Secret?” Podcast, I’m inviting some of my own partners to share their insights.

Why You Need Good Partners

While the benefits are too many to count in a post like this, I’ll go over the main reasons:

  1. Partners Innovate. 

We all need ideas originating from outside ourselves. Everyone possesses a unique way of seeing the world, eyeing both unique problems and unique solutions.

Sometimes I hear entrepreneurs express the idea, “If only I could clone myself, I could get everything done!” But cloning yourself isn’t going to add anything new to the world. 

It’s far better to find someone who brings their special flavor of secret sauce to the table. Or in other words, their brand of thinking and skills with execution.

  1. Partners Sharpen.

People only get better in the context of relationships. The right partner will help you grow personally, improve your mindset, and sharpen your skills.

You need someone to help you think about your ideas and encourage you when you’re down. Sometimes, you’ll benefit from having someone to provide a swift kick in the rear, just when you need it.

  1. Partners Provide Advancement.

When an entrepreneur comes to me and complains that they’ve hit a ceiling, the first thing I ask them about is their partnerships. Most entrepreneurs start solo and try to do everything by themselves, and they become the cap to their business’s potential.

Wherever you are on your entrepreneurial journey, take a look at some of your tasks, and see what needs to be delegated.

A wise man once said “The reason you can’t afford to delegate … is that you don’t delegate.”

  1. Partners Bring New Strengths.

Everyone on the planet has a talent you don’t. The proud entrepreneur denies this, and becomes an island to themselves. The smart one embraces the strengths of others, and sails right on by that island.

Your partners have skills, relationships, tools, and reputations that will propel you forward.

Speaking of which, I have a tool that can do that as well. You can learn to turn your skills, ideas, and products into major cash cows. Check it out!

How To Gain And Retain World-Class Partners

Here are a few practical tips to get you on your way to the best partnerships.

  1. Be A Good Partner.

The single greatest way to secure good partners is to become one yourself. In other words, be the friend that a good friend would love to have.

Ask yourself … what you would want to see in your closest ally? Then you set about embodying that person. Soon enough, you’ll attract the right type. 

One quick way to start becoming the partner everybody wants to work with is to make a few adjustments to your morning habits.

  1. Find A Good Partner

Search for a person of excellence who complements your strengths and weaknesses, and invite them to a conversation.

You could find them at a current or previous workplace, a communal workspace, or a site for networking such as LinkedIn. The key is to find someone who pushes you forward while covering your flank.

For example, there’s me and my partner Nick. I’m good with people, sales, and psychology, what some call “soft skills.” So I knew that I wanted to get into business with a technical wizard like Nick. He knows SEO, PPC, and SaaS like the back of his hand. 

Together we’re unstoppable.

  1. Protect Your Partnerships.

This mostly requires legal agreements and hard conversations. Since I’m no lawyer, I’ll focus on the latter.

If you want to form or improve partnerships, it’s going to require some awkward conversations. Have them anyway.

These could be sales conversations, rate-raising conversations, invitations to become a partner, or even “Hey, that thing bothered me” conversations. You never know how somebody’s going to react until you bring it up.

In the case of prospecting or expanding, you have to deal with “no” upfront in order to get to yes. Don’t get left with a lousy, “I’ll think about it and get back to you.” A straight-up rejection would be better, and doesn’t waste anybody’s time.

In the case of working through conflicts, it’s better to leave nothing unsaid, even if it’s tough at the moment. Just be ready to admit your own shortcomings as well.

  1. Work For Your Partner.

Provide tremendous value upfront before asking anything from anybody. 

Answer your potential customer or colleague’s most immediate need before telling them about what you want. This will lead you to collaborate with the highest achievers, and build deep trust with your clientele.

These are a few tips to get you started. To dive a bit deeper into building your network, check out my latest “What’s The Secret?” Podcast with bestselling author and copywriter Paul Edwards.

About the Author
Tom is the host of What's the Secret podcast and co-founder of Offlinesharks.com

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