4 Steps to Building a Strong Partnership: Part 1

Partnerships are key to TBI – and to you

** This is part one of “4 Steps to Building a Strong Partnership”. You can read part two here.

Partnerships are essential to any business in any industry. Our partners are the lifeblood of our own business and we would venture to say the same is true of you and your customers. In this two-part series we’ll explore the four steps to building stable, successful, and mutually-profitable partnerships.

Whether it’s with another business, within your own organization, or with a customer, the relationships you create can be beneficial to you in both the short term and long term.

Have you ever heard the fable of the lion and the mouse? It’s a story of the most opposite of creatures and how they were able to help each other. Story below:


A lion lay asleep in the forest. A timid little mouse came upon him unexpectedly, and in her fright, ran across the Lion's nose. Roused from his nap, the lion laid his huge paw angrily on the tiny creature. "Spare me!" begged the poor mouse. "Please let me go and someday I will surely repay you." The lion was much amused to think that a mouse could ever help him, but he was generous and let the mouse go. Some days later, the lion was caught in a hunter's net. Unable to free himself, he filled the forest with roaring. The mouse knew the voice and quickly found the lion struggling in the net. Running to one of the ropes that bound him, she gnawed it until it parted, and soon the lion was free. "You laughed when I said I would repay you," said the mouse. "Now you see that even a mouse can help a lion."

I’m sure we can all relate to this story in some way. It goes to show that even the most unlikely of partnerships can lead to great things. But what makes a good partnership great?

I’ve broken it down into the four essential components to building great partnerships with your customers. In this blog post we'll examine the first two:

  1. Communicate (the right way)

The first step to a strong partnership is having clear and open lines of communication. To offer the best example of what not to do when communicating with a partner, let’s take a look at one of the most amusing partnerships ever: Abbott and Costello.Step 1: Communicate the right way

We’ve all had conversations that resemble the famous “Who’s on first” routine. These are the times when we know exactly what we’re trying to say, but for some reason the guy on the other end just isn’t getting it.

Don’t just brush it off or give up; try a different method. Initiate a phone call instead of an e-mail or have a face-to-face meeting instead of a phone call. Be persistent in learning how to best communicate with your partner. If you know your partner responds well to visuals, take the time to prepare a presentation. Negative or positive, you have to be able to talk honestly each other. Don’t like how something was handled? Say something. Don’t know an answer to a question or don’t understand? Ask. Like their shoes? Compliment them.

Finally, (and this is especially relevant to our industry): Make sure you know who to communicate with. Talking to the wrong person is the equivalent of talking to a wall. When speaking with your customers for the first time, take a pause to open the lines of communication before getting down to business. Get to know them. Learn how they work, what their needs are, and how you can best serve them. I guarantee a preliminary conversation will save you time, money, and potential misunderstandings on the backend.

  1. Pull Your Weight, Not Theirs

 Work for your partner as well as with your partner.

Sometimes, when responsibilities are not clearly defined, one partner ends up doing most of the work while the other takes all the glory. When one partner starts taking advantage of the other, it leads to resentment, ill will, and oftentimes an eventual parting of ways. If we simply change our way of thinking, our efforts within a partnership can change, too.

Set clear expectation of one another from the get-go and make sure to revisit and reevaluate those expectations often. Let your partners know exactly what you expect of them and ask them what they expect of you. Knowing this at the beginning of the relationship alleviates the possibility of heartbreak later on.

Stay tuned for part 2 of “4 Steps to Building a Strong Partnership” where we’ll explore Defining Goals and Developing Compatible Skills.


About the Author
Bryan Reynolds is a Partner Experience Manager at TBI. He provides partners with their initial on-boarding experience and guides them through TBI’s processes and procedures to ensure clear and efficient communication. You can contact Bryan at breynolds@tbicom.com or connect with him on LinkedIn here.