Partnering: Who’s appropriate? Who’s not? And how can you tell?

I get approached daily by folks wanting to partner. I, too, attempt connections with maybe 10 people a day for the same purpose. So how do we know who is right for us to partner with and who isn’t? And how can we tell before disaster strikes?

Of course, we all make mistakes – like that time I partnered with a man in India (Ok, ok. I should have known, right?). The idea was to make me a recognized brand throughout India, and then have him represent me as a trainer and speaker. We were to share the costs. Except we didn’t. I paid my half, and then was forced to pay his, when I received a call from our publicist 5 months later asking me if I’d please please pay him. When I asked my new partner about it, he said, “Oh, right. Well, I didn’t like what he did.” He did a fabulous job, I said. “I agree, but he didn’t give me the type of follow up paper (outside the contract) I wanted. So I didn’t pay him, and I don’t want you to either until he does what I asked.” Next.How do we know up front who is a responsible business person, who will do what we agree and be professional? And if people are referred as being trustworthy, how will we know that they will be with us? How do we know that our clients will like the new offering? How do we partner to get the best out of our joint offering?

Here is a list of Facilitative Questions (not facilitatING questions, or evoking questions, or enabling questions, as some folks are redefining  the term Facilitative Questions) to ask yourself to help you recognize when to stay in and when to get out:

  • What will I need to vet for, before we begin doing business, to know that someone will be trustworthy? How can I correctly and quickly recognize any personality issues as being warning signs?
  • What will I see or understand about a person to know if it’s even worth the time to consider if his/her offering fits with my vision?
  • What sort of sign posts should I put up to measure success along the route, and enable me to make timely corrections or get out at the appropriate time?
  • How will I know before I begin that a potential partner is so creative and driven that working with them would be an asset whether or not it is obvious that we have a natural fit? And how will I know if a potential partner would be so problematic to work with that even with a natural fit it wouldn’t be a good idea?
  • How will I know, before we begin, that my client base will be excited by the new offering?
  • What will I need to see before sitting down with this new person so I’ll know if we can communicate in a way that will instill creativity and leadership in both of our companies, and ensure continual success?
  • What sort of failsafes should I, and my potential partner, put in place up front to track if we are getting off base?

I hope these questions help you think through partnerships. Good luck. And, if you want to learn how to formulate Facilitative Questions, let me know.


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