• A successful partnership can lead to long-term growth, product legitimacy and strategic expansion.

  • Partnerships are based on an equal, synergistic relationship, and they take time to create.

Forging successful partnerships — whether they are with fellow real estate agents, vendors or clients — can yield benefits beyond an initial sale or deal.

Perhaps you want to expand your service area, launch your product to an established market or implement technology that you don’t have resources to develop. Developing partnerships can facilitate all these things.

One of our most successful partnerships has resulted from the implementation of the following five best practices for creating powerful and lasting business relationships, and it’s been a “win win” for everyone involved.

1. Define a need

The first and most important factor when forging a partnership is to identify and define a true need.

What are the pain points your prospective partner is facing? How can you help with those? What does your partner have that you need? How can you benefit from the relationship? What are the synergies that exist between you and a prospective partner?

You also need to consider the potential problems: What are the downsides to working together? How could the partnership impact your long-term plans?

2. Be a true partner

Partnerships are based on an equal, synergistic relationship. Negotiating a deal that significantly benefits one partner over the other, or hiding facts, figures or capabilities can lead to disaster that might impact your long-term relationship, reputation and bottom line.

Effective partners must work together toward common goals, identify all potential risks and pitfalls upfront and resolve them as quickly as possible.

3. Over-communicate and over-deliver

Launching and rolling out your partnership can be tricky — especially if your partner has multiple constituents and stakeholders.

You need to promote the partnership to everyone involved and show them how it will be a benefit. Be sure to really listen to your partners — they understand their constituents the best — and follow their lead during rollout.

Always be prepared to support and help as needed.

4. Be patient

Partnerships take time to create. Negotiating terms that work for both parties might not be as simple as you imagined. Terms are not always easy to finalize, and priorities are not always in sync.

Don’t panic if a prospective partner “goes quiet” after an initial presentation. They might simply be trying to work things out on their end or discussing the prospective partnership with stakeholders.

5. Think long-term

A successful partnership continues long after the contract ink is dry.

And success isn’t a given. You need to be flexible.

Sometimes your initial vision might evolve into something different. Be sure to set regular “check-ins” to determine how the relationship is doing, set future plans and determine growth goals.

A successful partnership should evolve with the industry and business climate.

Good partnerships can be hard to find, and you can’t “force fit” a relationship. You need to be willing to forgo the partnership if things don’t seem to be working out.

But if there is both a need and mutual respect, the rewards will definitely be worth the effort.

A successful partnership can lead to long-term growth, product legitimacy and strategic expansion.

Those results are definitely worth it!

Lisa Fettner is the VP of marketing at ReferralExchange in San Francisco. Follow ReferralExchange on Facebook or Twitter.

Email Lisa Fettner.

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