How to Build a Partnership That Works

Collaborations to Cultivate

It’s almost impossible to get things done on your own. The best collaborations are built on mutual trust and complementary skill sets, but also a sense of reciprocity that keeps you moving forward in a happy and productive manner.

Think back to the collaborations you’ve been a part of in the past that didn’t work out so well. Maybe you felt like you were doing all of the work. Maybe they did. Clear lines of communication and holding space to openly acknowledge the contributions of each partner is key to addressing conflict. From “day 0” of a partnership, you can design a culture of understanding by defining the shared value of working together. Both organizations should aim to create additional value through a partnership that collaboratively delivers impact to intended stakeholders while also enabling financial sustainability.

Collaborations: Alice Donovan Rouse / Unsplash

Alice Donovan Rouse / Unsplash

Recently, we published a series of free toolkits called Give All that capture all of the methodologies we’ve leveraged with hundreds of clients over the years at verynice. One of those toolkits, Collaborative Analysis, is great for working through this important process.

Here’s a quick activity from the toolkit to help you and your partner set yourselves up for success.

Once you have identified a potential partner, consider the ways in which the collaboration can help amplify impact, generate additional revenue, and further exemplify key ‘Other Factors’ (AKA core competencies, resources, experience, etc.) for both organizations. Our Collaborative Analysis canvas (below) will help you guide your thoughts.

Collaborations grid

How can you even find a collaborator or partner?

Many of us know that we should be networking and finding like-minded people to work with, but the big hurdle is often this question of “how do I even find the right person to work with?” The number one mistake I’ve observed in many networkers is that they often start looking for collaborators before they even know what they need help with!

When attending events and meetups in the interest of finding a new collaborator, the best thing you can do is be prepared to clearly articulate what you need, and what you can provide. Take time to evaluate your own skill sets and interests in order to unveil the actual gaps that exist in your “toolbox”. Use these gaps as a guide when considering the right partner, but also use the skill sets and interests you already have as an inventory of offerings that you could provide to help fill the gaps of others.

Finding the perfect, lifelong, creative partner is not easy, but approaching each collaborative project you take on as an opportunity to create shared value sure makes things a lot more fun and effective. As you look for that next partner, keep in mind the importance of reciprocity. The collaboration will reach new heights if you do!