A lot of people compare business relationships to marriages – and, on a lot of levels, the comparison is apt. The base of all mutually beneficial relationships, business or otherwise, is communication.
If you’re looking to build stronger relationships with your potential business partners, take into account the way you’re communicating with them, and see if there aren’t some areas – like those listed below – in which you can improve.
Make Your Goals and Abilities Clear From the Start
You always want to go into your business partnerships with a clear idea as to where they’re headed.
You’ve reached out to a potential partner because you believe that they can help you achieve that goal, after all – they’re the best folks, according to you or your team, to help you complete the task at hand. To ensure that you go into a business partnership with a clear head, spend some time on your own or with your team early in the project.
Establish key events in the project’s timeline. Finally, make sure you know what, ideally, the project will look like upon its completion.
Once you’ve got a strong idea of your ideal completed project, you can check in with your potential partner and make sure that your goals are compatible.
You’ll also want to compare deadlines and communicate as to whether or not you can do the work that’s requested of you in that amount of time. Make sure, too, that the project you and your partner are undertaking is well within the realm of your mutual capabilities.
While there may be parts of a project that your partner will contribute more to than you, it’s a bad idea to stretch yourself too thin by trying to take on a project that is outside the realm of the work you normally do.
Establish Your Expectations
Goals, though, are different than expectations. You and your business partner may both want to provide a fantastic service or product to your mutual consumer audience, but that doesn’t mean that the two of you will naturally go about it the same way.
Make sure you sit down with your potential business partner and have them outline their expectations for themselves and for you over the course of your project. Ask yourself:
- Can you do what they’re asking you in the amount of time the two of you have designated?
- Are there areas of the project that you may have to contribute more time to in order to see them through adequately?
- How do the two of you anticipate dividing your time between this project and the others on your plates?
Share your concerns with your potential business partner early so that the two of you can adjust expectations together and avoid disappointment or arguments in the long run.
This civility and forethought will make it all the more likely that you and this particular business partner will be able to work together again.
Ensure Partner-Client Compatibility
On a more personal level, you’ll want to take care to ensure that you, your business partner, and your client can all get along. While this doesn’t mean that you have to start going to each other’s holiday parties, it does mean that you need to be able to treat all parties of a potential business partnership with respect.
If you find that there are fundamental differences in the way you choose to work and your business partner prefers to operate, then a partnership may not be the best idea. However, if there’s an area of conflict in your partnership that can be solved through compromise, communicate with your business partner and see if the two of you – or the client involved – can’t find a middle ground.
Communicate with Your Clients
Stay in touch, too, with your business partner and clients.
Take care to CC both parties you’re working with on any important emails and to share all project-related information as soon as possible. Not only is it bad for a project if the information is delayed, but it puts unnecessary pressure on a business relationship if you don’t check in with the folks you’re working with.
Keep Your Deadlines
It’s also exceptionally important for you to keep to the deadlines you and your business partner set for yourselves. By showing strong time management skills, you’ll be able to impress your partner with your professionalism and prove to both them and your mutual client that you’re worth the economic and personal investment.
When it comes to monitoring the time you spend on a project, time tracking apps can come in handy. These apps, like Timeneye, help you stay on top of your deadlines and will also ensure that you can keep track of how many hours you dedicate to the different elements of your project.
Stay In Touch
Most importantly, once a project comes to its natural conclusion, stay in touch with your business partner.
By checking in now and then, you’ll keep your presence fresh in your partner’s minds. It’ll be all the more likely that they’ll reach out to you for assistance on another project. Be friendly, and remember: no matter what, you’re always working with other people, and it pays to be considerate.
Like we said: if you want to build better business relationships, you need to take a look at the way you communicate with your potential partners. You don’t have to go exchanging wedding vows, but a little commitment can go a long way.
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