Building Partnership Relationships GRACEFULLY
It’s been a while since I published my last blog, but lately I have been thinking about business etiquette and some major themes in business partnership relationship building that screamed out at me, “Let’s get it together, people!”
Over the years, I have either witnessed them first-hand or vicariously through someone else. As a result, I have identified a few key behaviors that should either be avoided or enhanced by business people. Doing so will typically improve their business relationships or allow them to rise to their higher selves in business. So I’m going to bullet them here, and then I will offer my suggestions regarding great ways to approach, deal with, or avoid these situations, and move on. These bullet points can easily apply to the corporate environment; however, I am offering them here with the budding entrepreneur in mind.
1. Beware of fulfilling other people's SELFISH favors.
The key word here is selfish. Everybody needs something on the rise to the top: this common-sense fact seems to escape most people. So what usually happens is that most people dive head first into asking people for favors without offering how to help them in return. Personally, this became very irritating to me when I first embarked on my entrepreneurial journey. With my natural creative talents but lack of marketing infrastructure to support them, I often found myself doing favors for people who needed my talents to launch their projects. Yet, I got nothing in return from them. I thought they would help me improve my exposure in the process of my fulfilling a favor for them, but once my services were rendered in many cases, my business name would fail to be mentioned from that moment forward…unless I was the one doing the mentioning. When I finally noticed the pattern, I quickly laid the foundation for my having contracts, proposals, pricing structures, websites, email marketing strategies, flyers, etc. in place for all of my business ventures going forward. However, I did not escape becoming jaded. If you want to avoid that whole jaded experience, then learn to quickly recognize when people are asking you for favors without offering you anything in return. However, do not stop the conversation there simply because of this. Choose to still make it a productive, educational moment. Ask them how your fulfillment of the favor can become mutually beneficial to both of your businesses. In some cases, there isn’t a way to make the exchange mutually beneficial, so I suggest ONLY performing the favor after you have accepted the terms and risks involved, which could actually result in you getting zilch for the favor.
Do your homework on the frontend of every favor you fulfill for people so that you are comfortable with your decision to peform it.
2. Don’t be afraid to ASK FOR HELP.
Again, everybody needs something. However, many people do not communicate what they need so that other people can help them. It is vital that they get over themselves. This is the case of “a closed mouth not getting fed.” Most people don’t feel comfortable saying, “I have hit a wall, and I don’t know what to do next.” They believe that this is a sign of weakness rather than a sign of strength. But if you have ever had first-hand experience with this situation, you quickly learned that quite the opposite is true. In fact, I learned this lesson years ago as well. The moment I announced to someone what I had gotten up to a certain point regarding a project, and then expressed what I had planned for next steps, the person became impressed. I let them know that I was confused about what I should do next or the resources that were available for my path forward. Help came, and then I learned that my solicitation for assistance was seen more as a sign of leadership and willingness to build momentum around getting something done. Thereafter, when the shoe was on the other foot, and I paid more attention to other business leaders, I noticed that when they were more authentic and expressive about project needs and weaknesses, I ALSO respected them MUCH more. I noted that any follow up solicitation for help with filling in the need gaps were well-received by their subordinate team members as well.
When people talk around and cover up issues, the smoke clears eventually. What remains is the BS! BS is never good for a personal or business brand, so don’t BS people.
Just be upfront and clear about any issues you are experiencing while trying to collaborate with others. >Most importantly, avoid other people’s BS like the plague.
3. DON'T FORCE your business practices or work ethics on other business leaders and entrepreneurs.
When it comes to our personal brands or businesses, of course, we all tend to think we know what’s best. But “what’s best” is ALWAYS subjective. What works best for you may not work best for me.
Strategic partnerships are vital to build a thriving network and community. However, they are often very difficult to effectively implement.
That is because many entrepreneurs have the “highway or no way” mentality. Thus, when some business meetings occur, a communication arm wrestle takes place resulting in zero results because the parties involved were too busy trying to convince each other they had the better answer. Instead, listen to what people have to say in meetings. Offer feedback only when it is appropriate or solicited. Pushy tactics exercised by some business owners are frowned upon by other business owners. However, creative ideas that uniquely combine strategies for meeting the mission statements and objectives of BOTH parties in the business meeting are EXCITING for business owners. Business owners tend to struggle with knowing when to push or imprint their agendas onto others. There is absolutely nothing wrong with business owners imprinting their agendas onto the team they manage. However, imprinting does not work well with other business owners with a different set of business objectives. Keep in mind that business meetings with other leaders, business owners, and entrepreneurs are not anyone’s moment to grand stand or chide others. Always remember that they are collective-thinking, brain storming, or strategic planning meetings that may or may not result in a path forward. Treat those meetings as such. And if there is no middle ground to be met during strategic partnership meetings, then that is perfectly okay.
4. Be authentic and PROFESSIONAL.
How many times have you heard the phrase, “I keep it 100”? This phrase is great to use if you are talking to family or friends, but try to stay away from it with clients or customers. If your client is a friend, then it’s okay. However, if you’re like me, you do a double take every time people make unsolicited statements about who they are. If you are telling me who you are, and I did not ask, then I tend to think that you are attempting to “convince” me to view you in a particular manner.
Either the business relationship will work or not, so just be ready for both outcomes. When authenticity is established in your business dealings, you will only do business with those whom you “should” be doing business with. Those business relationships will be long-lasting. Furthermore, maintaining a professional demeanor filled with intentional words and actions establishes a personal brand that oozes integrity. Business relationships established on falsehoods, flaky facts, and unprofessionalism are destined to fail. You only want to experience failures that are unavoidable, right? Well, that means you should avoid inauthentic behavior and unprofessionalism as much as you possibly can.
5. Know the value of PEOPLE AND CONNECTING.
Finally, NEVER think someone has nothing to offer you. People often fail to establish creative business opportunities by underestimating the potential that exists all around them at all times. Instead, simply try to understand how your rules of engagement with other business people can be tweaked depending on how well you are able to meet your mission, value, and purpose statements while working with them. Remember that “highway or no way” mentality I mentioned previously? Well, it applies here as well.
Once people get over themselves, they will see that everything is connected and everyone can be a potential supporter of their business.
Perhaps the randon Joe can get the word out about your business to someone else. Maybe he can be a client, or perhaps a sponsor. If you are in the same industry with good ol' Joe, instead of viewing him as competition, exhaust the possibilities of leveraging the combined forces your business and that person’s business in an effort to service a larger client or client base! Value comes in a variety of shapes and forms. All business leaders and entrepreneurs excel when they realize this. If you want to grow, expand your thinking and maximize every opportunity and moment you have with someone.
To everyone reading this blog entry, I hope this helps you in your business dealings! I aim to be the best version of me that I can possibly be, and hope the very same for you!
DBrought to you by:
Daymond E. Lavine