Tips for Identifying & Leveraging Strategic Partnerships

A foundational principal at Local Eye Site has been identifying and pursuing relationships with other companies, associations and individuals that present an opportunity for both groups to benefit from cooperation. As I’ve written previously, my passion outside of work is coaching basketball, where teamwork is the supreme strategy. We’ve extended the concept of teamwork to our business, and the result has been fruitful for LES and our partners.

One example is our ongoing partnership with ATPO, the Association of Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology. Four years ago, we approached ATPO with the idea of allowing LES to “power” their already functioning online “Career Center.” Our vision was that our singular focus and top-line technology in combination with ATPO’s industry influence would create a tool that would well-serve the industry, as well as be more productive for ATPO and LES. Four years later, the results have been terrific for everyone involved, including a clearly more helpful job site for the Ophthalmic job-seekers and employers that utilize it.

Here are some questions and tips that should help identify potentially lucrative strategic partnerships:

1. What are your business or personal goals, and who can help you get there? What are the things holding you back from success? Are there key relationships you lack, or perhaps access to capital? Maybe it’s technology or expertise that you are looking for access to? Now, just look around, and identify the people or organizations that may be able to help you.

2. Now that you’ve identified who can help you, what do you have to offer them? Think creatively about the unique strengths, ideas, or assets that you bring to the table. How might your strengths be put together with another’s in order to create a mutually beneficial relationship?

3. Think beyond just what’s in it for you, and your potential new partner. Would cooperation create a solution that better serves your industry or community? Creating a “better way” that represents good for those around you can be part of your negotiation with your potential partner.

4. Look for organizations that already have other strategic partnerships, as it’s a good sign for the success of your proposal.

5. Look to partner with organizations whose brand reputation will bolster yours. Our success or failure is in some regards the result of those we associate with.

A few things to consider as you identify good partners and partnerships:

1. Do our personal ideals, objectives or corporate cultures match-up? If the two people or groups see the world through a very different lens, you may want to scrutinize this partnership.

2. Carefully consider what extraction from a partnership would look like, should it not work out, or just naturally need to come to an end.

3. An initial short-term relationship may be best in order to give things a test-run before committing to a longer partnership.

4. Both sides should negotiate a partnership that is fair and equitable for both people or organizations. An inequitable term in a contract, even if it’s to your advantage, presents the opportunities for significant headaches for you down the road.

5. Communicate well with your partners. As with any relationship, regular communication about what is working well, or not so well for each “team” will keep the partnership on track.

Where it makes sense, in my personal and professional life, I always want to create a situation where 2 plus 2 equals 5. I think most people do, but sometimes we don’t think strategically about the ways that we can help one another get where we’re going. Strategic partnerships can lighten the load, and help you achieve things otherwise potentially unattainable. Much success.

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