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Three Tips for Building Successful Business Partnerships

July 10, 2018

In my 20 years of selling media, I’ve learned that there are three critical rules to cultivate and grow a successful business relationship. Certain people communicate differently than others, and you learn to pick things up along the way. My top goal throughout my career has always been to get them to like me, get them to know me and then get them to trust me.

Tip #1: Define the Cadence and the Method(s) of Communication

All relationships, friends, family, and business, rely on open and productive dialogue. Communication is especially critical in business as it involves expressing opinions and interests that go beyond an individual level.

An easy, and overlooked, first step when working with a client is to establish your client’s preferred communication method(s)- whether by phone, email, chat, or text. Even though I prefer talking on the phone, I recognize that my preferred communication channel will not always be what my clients are comfortable with: find out what method and cadence work, and don’t deviate from that. If you find that you’re not getting enough information from the agreed upon plan, communicate it, and find a better solution.

Tip #2: Create an Environment of Mutual Respect and Trust

As in any relationship, you have to build respect and trust to succeed long-term. Respect is often earned over time; in fact, some think that in order to gain respect you need to be the Subject Matter Expert (SME). However, in my experience, respect is gained in a much more straightforward way: by always following through on what you say you’re going to do, and addressing problems and questions head-on.

For a new business relationship to grow, your client needs to know they can rely on you. Subsequently, the client needs to respect your knowledge and experience, in turn will help them achieve their goals, too. When both parties begin to think of and refer to each other as “we,” “us,” “our,” that is when you know you have established a partnership destined for success.

Tip #3: Identify Leadership and Project Management Roles

Finally, you need to mutually outline who will lead, own, and manage each project. For even the simplest tasks, outline what deliverables are needed and who is going to deliver them. Who sets direction? Who ensures each deadline is met? Is it possible to manage projects collaboratively across teams? It is so important that each person on the team has a defined role. You don’t want to have too many cooks in the kitchen. When everyone is working together to reach a common goal…it is a masterpiece.  

The fusion of these three elements, in any relationship, is a formula for positive energy, genuine interaction, and a mutually beneficial partnership.


Sarah Mulder

Senior Business Development Director, MBuy