Savvy business owners and CEOs understand that no enterprise can last very long without contributions from a business partner. In this sense, “partner” can encompass everything from third-party vendors to an alliance with a complementary business.
What’s key in all successful business partner situations is honesty and trust. For better or for worse, these qualities are rarely “built into” a partnership. Rather, honesty and trust must be earned across the board, for the partnership to succeed.
Look at the people and organizations you do business with. If any of these entities rise to the level of “partner,” here are tips to make sure they feel valued and appreciated:
1. Send a personal note of thanks.
In our digital era, the idea of a handwritten thank-you note might seem hopelessly outdated. But the rarity of this gesture is what makes it so effective in a business relationship. When you come to the end of a new organizational initiative, the relaunch of an existing product, or some other special event in which your business partners were involved, consider thanking them through a personalized message or card.
“Before closing a thank-you note,” MightyCall advises, “express your desire to continue the business connection.” This demonstrates that “you are serious about your trade” and, “if you already have ideas for a future cooperation, mention it without going into details.”
2. Follow your partners on social media.
A business partner is likely to feel more appreciated if he or she knows you are a loyal follower of their social media platforms. This is a great way to build a sense of connection, particularly if you retweet a business partner’s posting or add comments to those posts.
According to Firsthand, by being active on social media, “not only will you maintain your existing relationships, but new partnerships and opportunities will start to come your way.”
3. Share information and resources.
Nothing says “solid partnership” better than a partner’s willingness to share industry-specific knowledge and resources. This effort helps build greater trust into the relationship, while also gaining a reputation as a business committed to freely distribute information.
For example, says AllBusiness.com, a security products company “provides even greater value to clients and other partners by sharing its expertise in business security strategies—sending along relevant articles and white papers, reporting on industry trends, etc.—regardless of whether or not sharing such knowledge leads to a sale.”
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4. Prioritize staying in touch.
Most business communications take place through texting, email, Zoom, social media feeds, and so on. While these methods are all efficient tools for communications, they lack the “personal touch” that can help partners feel valued.
Seek out ways of interacting with partners face-to-face, such as at trade industry conferences or social gatherings. Even a casual get-together from time to time helps to strengthen business partnerships.
5. Ask a partner for input.
The whole idea behind a thriving business partnership is having access to individuals and/or organizations that come from a different background and have a different perspective on business. Assuming you have such a relationship built on honesty and trust, consider asking for input prior to a new product launch or upgrade, or when you plan your next big marketing campaign. This doesn’t mean sharing sensitive or proprietary information; instead, a request for feedback shows you value your partner’s insight and experience.
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