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The 10 Rules to Creating a Win-Win-Winning Partnership

Winning in life, or at whatever you want most to achieve, is easier to accomplish if everyone involved has the same opportunity and motivation to do the same. I am always looking for ways to create these kinds of winning partnerships in everything I do because I love to see if we all can win doing the things we love to do, together. While some of my partnerships have been more successful than others, over the years, I have certainly learned a lot about what to look for to try and create a winning situation for everyone involved.

So here is my list. I hope it helps you win-win-win too.

#1 You need to look for individuals who have value systems just like your own. Individuals who are honest and do what they say they are going to do are the only people you want as a partner. These folks need to be self motivated to accomplish their goals, not in the middle of chaos or scandals, to the best of your knowledge, and be great communicators- just like you.

#2 You need to partner with organizations that have similar vision. www.ICanFlourish.com and No More Starving Artists- aka my button- have a lot in common in our core message about what we do and who we serve. It is no wonder Flourish Studios is becoming the home of The Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship and is evolving into a great partnership.

#3 You need to approach the marketing of your partnership in complimentary ways to effectively market your shared vision together.  If one of you tweets and one of you blogs that works! If both of you blog and tweet, divide up subject matter, or request the passing back and forth of content about each other. The strength of your partnership will come from the real and perceived perceptions of others that you really do fit nicely together. So find a way that works for both of you to express it!

#4 You need to identify individuals and organizations that have products and services that are complimentary to yours, regardless of their company size. For example, www.Grasshopper.com provides virtual phone systems to entrepreneurs. When I approached them about helping to promote The Instiitute for Arts Entreprenuership, because every artist needs a virtual phone system to help them sound more professional and engage with customers more quickly, Grasshopper liked the idea.  So although Grasshopper is a very well-known company, on Inc’s fastest growing 500 list of companies, and we are a start-up, they agreed to become a partner and help promote us on their site that gets millions of hits a month.

#5 You have to have a compelling reason why you are a worthy partner. It is not size that determines your value but your understanding of the market place and what others need in it and how that partner can grow with your ideas because of the partnership you will establish. While often at first a well chosen partner will say they like what you are doing or see the synergy, EVERYONE eventually will get to the question: What is in it for me. You have to be prepared to answer this question before you ever begin the dialogue. And to be able to answer their question you have to be able to put yourself in their shoes and identify how they approach their market and what you can offer to enhance their brand and increase their market share. You must appeal to their needs if you truly want to have a real chance to have them become a partner because they need to WIN too!

#6 Every partnership needs a clear mutually agreed upon plan and follow up. Good communication and honest dialogue about each partners needs in the relationship, just like a personal one, will make for a longer lasting professional relationship. The more you are able to find ways to mutually benefit, and actually do, the more likely you are to have these relationships last. After all, going through all the effort to identify and establishing a partnership is far more work than maintaining and nurturing it, if you properly set expectations by planning together.

#7 Expect to date before you get married. No individual or organization is going to give you their mailing list, hand you their customers, promote your work tirelessly to partner with you. Nor do we get married to have a one directional relationship. Dating is a period of testing the reliability and truthfulness of what we have learned about another based on what we have been told. We obviously only date if we like what we have seen and heard. Seasoned organizations who partner with others will not waste their time with you dating unless they see potential to move the relationship further. Dating usually means they agree to a pilot project together to see how well things go.  Getting to the dating stage is a big deal and harder than it appears, but once you are there if you are reliable, consistent and work hard– demonstrating with your actions what got you that far in the first place– your chances improve tremendously to have that partnership take root and move forward.

#8 Identify what you can offer a partner and then offer it to them. In the case of Grasshopper, because they have a radio presence in the Chicago market on Sirius XM Satellite radio, I was able to ask them about how effectively their ads were in growing the Chicago market. As a result of their interest in Chicago, I was able to suggest that I could run some meet-ups for Artists and Entrepreneurs around Chicago and have Grasshopper and The Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship be sponsors of the event. They loved the idea and Friday February 19th, 2010 will be our first one.

#9 Work hard but benefit equally. Benefits of the partnership must be equal to both parties for the efforts you each invest. The partnership must be set up in a way that little to no effort is spent only offering benefit(s) to one party, and not the other. That is why the word is partnership.

#10 Partnerships Grow your Business Faster. There is no doubt that a great partnership can be tricky to identify and hard to establish, but the rewards for doing so are typically great. Not only will a great partner bring talents and access to new people and avenues for growth for you that you could never achieve immediately on your own, but equally they bring similar professionalism and passion to your work purely by their association and credibility in the market. And remember, because money is energy you usually really can find it where passion flows.

Thank you Gabrielle Senza, from Berkshire Art Kitchen, for inspiring this post! And Atta’ Girl for making it through your first year! I am so proud of you.