Why and How to Build a Successful Partnership?

As I wrote in the previous article, doing independent investment doesn’t mean doing it alone. Today is not the time to work alone. With the current development of the world, building partnerships is an important need for all sectors. This is for the sake of dealing with changes that are happening fast everywhere, which are followed by variations in the needs of society that are complex and consistently changing. It must be realized that the availability of resources is limited. Not to mention that the development of knowledge, expertise and specialization of a person, group and organization also requires a process that is not fast in keeping up with changing world needs.

Referring to Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia, the word partnership is described as a collaboration, mutually beneficial relationships that are established based on concern, equality, and synergistic togetherness between the government, society, and the business world in the development of social welfare.

Throughout my career before and during managing Angsamerah’s social business, I felt three main positive impacts from the right partnership; 1) multiplying results; 2) mobilizing limited resources; 3) responding to diverse client needs.

While partnerships are beneficial, the reality on the ground taught me that partnerships are a breeding ground for conflict because everyone is a leader, or thinks so. While neither party actually enters into a partnership with the intention of failing, unfortunately this often happens. Therefore, through this article I will share practical steps to create a successful partnership.

Forms of partnerships may vary widely, from informal to formal. It is also flexible to be developed, following the agreement on the needs of the agreement makers, both between individuals, groups and organizations. However, there are also forms of partnership that must comply with regulations set by the government. The following are examples of variations of partnerships, from simple to complex: profit sharing, barter promotions, exchanges, collaboration of sources or expertise, exchange of followers or membership, receiving or providing grants, joint funding/cost sharing of development of health and other social programs, joint investment business, co-ownership.

To get the result of partnership that has a positive impact, you need the right partnership strategy, not randomly collecting many partnerships without a consideration process. Instead of us losing, it is even more uncomfortable if it continues into a prolonged conflict.

How is the right partnership strategy?

These are 6 essentials guide in building a successful partnership:

1. Have a growth mindset and positive attitude.

Continuing partnerships start from the meeting of one and two people/groups who are individuals or represent groups/organizations. It often happens that without realizing it we lose partnership opportunities, even our partnerships fail because we don’t have a growth mindset and positive behavior in starting and maintaining collaborative partnerships. I say not yet, because positive mindset and behavior can be learned and trained.

When meeting and forming partnerships, of course we hope our partners have a positive mindset and behavior. This means they are enjoyable to talk with and have common ground/solutions that are mutually beneficial. If the partnership does not occur, the pleasant impression will remain, optimism will arise to find other opportunities in the future, and expand the networking of all parties.

The following is a reminder to accustom us with a growth mindset and positive behavior in the partnership space:

  • Not afraid of challenges or competition.

This kind of mindset will inspire us to keep trying to prove the uniqueness/specificity and development of the skills we have, without having to reduce the value of success and even steal the business opportunities of our partners. A growth mindset enables us to transform a challenge or competition into another successful opportunity. It is very possible if our partners have similarities in the type of business/expertise. This doesn’t need to be seen negatively, but instead turned into an opportunity to increase the efforts of all parties.

  • Supportive

Each party needs to support each other and show optimism about the partnership that will be built or is already running. Optimism can give birth to hope and motivation, which will move various parties to try to find various opportunities that create collaborative partnerships. If you like it, surely, we will be excited to make it happen, and agreed.

  • Respect

It’s only natural that each party wants a reward/compensation/appreciation from the partnership business. Therefore, make it a habit to think about what rewards/appreciation we can give/offer to our potential or current partners. So don’t just focus on getting rewards for our own interests. A simple example: can we openly acknowledge and promote the contributions or expertise of our partners. Lastly, don’t be stingy or often forget to say thank you.

We should treat all parties equally, respect differences, and focus on finding solutions rather than making a fuss over problems.

  • Setting aside presumptions/assumptions.

The parties consider it with an open mind, setting aside presumptions/assumptions. If there are doubts, concerns, or questions, it is better to ask / convey them directly.

  • Sense of secure.

Get used to thinking and behaving that gives a sense of security. Partnership becomes a space for growth when the parties feel protected. The partner feels confident that he is in an environment that will not allow him to fail. The parties are aware and believe that any threat to the security of the partnership will damage the progress of the partnership. This understanding will certainly move all parties to jointly protect the existing partnership.

When insecurities arise, deal with them openly through discussion between partners. The results should benefit all members so they can make the right changes.

  • Catalyst

Various parties are eager to provide flexibility space that stimulates creativity to generate innovative ideas and support other parties in order to create harmony between partners and open up new and better opportunities.

2. Get to know our business ventures well.

Positive mindset and behavior are not enough to guarantee the realization of a successful partnership. It is very important that we and our team know our business products and services well. This means that we know where our goals and business goals/targets are, where are our strengths, what other areas/fields do we need, and acknowledge the weaknesses in the capacity we have. This understanding is followed by making a list of the partnerships we need and then sorting them according to priority needs. The benefits derived from this step are:

  • Help us get a map list of core potential partners that are important to contact. With this list we optimize the limitations of manpower, time, and costs, and cut extended discussions.
  • Potential partners who are right on target keep us from being busy contacting many partners who actually have the possibility of providing the benefits of small partnership cooperation. In addition, it is possible that we have contacted potential partners who are right on target but rejected the partnership offer. My advice, make a list of as many potential partners as possible.
  • Our team/work staff work efficiently in sorting/selecting requests for partnership bids from outside: relevant or not to be followed up, necessary or not referred to the management team/superior. With this mechanism, bureaucracy can be avoided, potential partners are also happy because the response is fast.

3. Get used to thinking about the benefits that can be offered to partners, especially if the partnership offer comes from us. This step will leverage the possibility of potential partners accepting our offer. Before meeting potential partners, it is very important that we learn about our partners: what their interests are, the successes they have achieved, the areas they may need but are not fulfilled.

4. Actively find the right new partners.

Finding a new partner and even getting the partner interested in working together is definitely a challenge. The following steps can be taken by our partnership unit team:

  • Prepare a list of potential partners that we need with a systematic agenda so that progress in contacting potential partners is continuously monitored.
  • Have a directed communication strategy as a guide for the partnership team, such as: how, when, and intensity. In essence, the right communication strategy makes more individuals and organizations aware of partnership opportunities with our organization. Prospective partners are interested, they may even proactively initiate contacting us, and continue to produce concrete collaborations.
  • There is a mechanism to filter collaboration offers. The last one is to follow up on the offer of a pending cooperation plan.
  • The partnership team has pleasant and clear communication skills with potential partners, both verbal and non-verbal.
  • The team has supporting tools in introducing organizational profiles, our products/services, and partnership offers. Examples of supporting tools: attractive presentation tools, simulations and/or packages that visualize the products/services/partnerships we want to offer. We can provide samples of our business products/services.
  • Distributed organizational profiles are available and easily accessible to potential partners. If deemed necessary, in certain situations, we prepare hard copies, even though in daily operations we continue to strive to implement the paperless mission.

As a reminder: the promotion and marketing of business products and services that we do to increase the number of clients/customers is different with efforts to find the right partner. It is possible that both are compatible in objectives, methods, and intensity ratios regarding priority levels and costs.

5. Make a written partnership agreement.

  • Partnerships have a high risk of conflict due to misunderstanding and/or forgetting because there are no written documents that can be referred to while the parties feel that their perspective is right.
  • The partnership collaboration offer starts with our initiation, so from the start, prepare a list of the important elements of the agreement. This list could be developed into a document with a more appropriate and legally formal agreement format.
  • It is important to write concise and precise agreements. The contents must be clear, no ambiguous words or sentences, and written in detail. What must be written are matters relating to the form of partnership products/services, the rights and obligations of each party, the consequences when the commitments of each party are not fulfilled.
  • Maybe initially reviewing or making a written agreement is complicated and tiring, but if you get used to carrying it out, it will reduce your workload in the future. Plus we have a wider variety of agreement templates/models, and of course it will minimize the risk of misunderstandings and conflicts from unfulfilled commitments between parties.
  • Thoroughly review the agreement documents. Don’t just depend on one person. Make sure there are double checks/filters by other members of our team.

6. Maintain the existing partners, let alone key partners.

Various reasons make this section forgotten. If there’s anything we want, we’ll just contact partners. There should be a systematic mechanism in how to treat partners. You can use various approaches like this:

  • Informal, personal communication from staff to staff.
  • Communication from organization to organization. For example, congratulating on special celebration occasions, occasionally giving special offers to partner employees, and mutually promoting products/services/organizational profiles that are not limited to the points of the partnership agreement.
  • Regular mechanism for sending activity updates or reports via e-mail.

I will provide a series of key questions that you can use as a filter in responding to partnership offers. Key questions will assist our team in deciding whether to continue discussions on potential partnerships. After that, you can deepen it by telephone, or Zoom, or face to face. Also consider whether or not discussions involving the management team are necessary.

Often time, the party offering the partnership is not ready or does not have complete information. Therefore, for the sake of efficiency and effectiveness of the partnership team’s work, we design a system so that it can respond quickly, and partners know that their partnership invitations have arrived and been responded to, and there is an officer responsible for following up on them. This system makes it easy for teams to screen each partner offer as early as possible. This link is used by our partnership unit team https://blog.angsamerah.com/partnership-form/.

The following is a list of partnership bid screening questions that you can use:

  • Do we recognize the profile of the individual/contact offering the partnership?
  • Does the person represent himself or represent a group or organization?
  • What are their roles and responsibilities?
  • What do we know about potential partners? Have we actively searched?
  • What forms of partnership do they offer?
  • Are the partnerships aligned with our organization’s mission and values? If you don’t agree, my suggestion is not to proceed with a discussion or face-to-face. Don’t forget to respond to the offeror about our decision.
  • What are the direct and indirect benefits of the offered partnership?
  • How much effort, time, and cost will be involved/required in this partnership process?
  • How long will the partnership last? Momentary or continuous for a certain time?

I’m closing this article with my favorite quote from Hellen Keller:

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

Have a good day, friends!

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