Maintaining a business partnership requires commitment, but the steps and skills needed for success are very similar to those needed for successful partnerships with organizations in other sectors.
How to Build a Business Partnership
Make a List
Brainstorm local businesses that would be good potential partners for your initiative. You should initially identify all businesses that come to mind, then refine the list down to the top 10 (or fewer) businesses that would make ideal partners.
- Compile a list of local businesses (include local subsidiaries of national corporations)
- Refine the list by thinking about the characteristics and strengths of each business and how those characteristics could be an asset to your initiative
- Refine the list even further by checking out their websites and looking for any mentions of philanthropic focuses or an interest in children and youth
Explore Your Networks
Make connections with people who will help you meet the right people at the company.
- Review your initiative's existing network and connections, including professional organizations
- Determine if your connections have either an existing relationship with anyone at the company or are connected to someone else who has a relationship with the company
- Try connecting with people at the company through social media (consider using a business networking social media channel like LinkedIn, or choose a channel appropriate to the business and sector)
Explore Their Role
Come prepared with your ideas about the role the business partner can play to support the initiative, but be open to talking through the possibilities together.
- Discuss the business's interests as well as the current needs of the initiative
- Clarify the amount of time and resources the business wishes to commit to the initiative
- Address concerns either you or the business partner have about your ability to work together
Move the relationship forward by taking concrete action steps.
- Set short-term milestones
- Determine how you or other partners associated with the initiative can help your business partner be successful in their role or task
- Establish a system of mutual accountability where you both agree upon plans, responsibilities, and deadlines