We have been putting a lot of focus recently on developing partnerships with other organizations. These partnerships range from local community-based organizations to a large national training provider. The one thing I can tell you for sure is that it takes time to build relationships.
As most of you already know, not every relationship you try to build is going to be successful. You may find that you’re just not a good fit – not because you don’t like each other or admire the work the other organization does, but because your end goal or the resources you have to achieve it just aren’t the same or what’s needed.
Now, we’ve all experienced those successful partnerships. When you have that synergy and the stars seem to align (this is figurative, of course!), you can feel the difference. We are working with an organization right now where the excitement between our organizations is palpable. I can hear it, see it, and almost physically experience it through my team, our communications, and especially when we meet on the phone.
Aside from good communication, one of the key ingredients that got us off to a great start was that the “What’s in it for me?” question was answered before a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was ever signed. Each organization went into this relationship with their eyes wide open, knowing exactly what the other brought to the table. All of the key players were brought in, from CEO to those actually delivering services. EVERYONE was on the same page. Does it make a difference? Absolutely! We are all invested in making this work.
So, why partner? There are a lot of reasons to partner. Typically, it’s to expand, add or improve on the services you already provide to your clients, or to increase the number of clients you’re serving by establishing an additional referral source. Depending on the services you offer or the type of organization you are, the benefits or additional services you bring to a partnership may vary.
As an example, the following are services we offer, as an Employment Network, to other organizations that partner with us:
- Assistance in identifying and contacting other local community resources.
- Cross-training on issues specific to the target population served by the agency.
- Consultation on issues such as accommodations, accessibility, and/or retention supports.
- Assistance with outreach and marketing efforts to the community.
- Joint accountability in meeting performance goals or measures through our shared clients.
- Access to qualified customers who could potentially meet employers’ hiring needs.
- Access to employers that may have a history or desire to hire persons with disabilities.
- Long-term tracking of clients pre- and post-placement.
I’d like to challenge you in the next two weeks to re-evaluate your current partnerships, or to focus on a specific one that you’d like to develop. Then create your own list of what you bring to the relationship AND what the other organization can do for you. Remember – you BOTH need to be able to answer the WIIFM question! Then, reach out and schedule a meeting. If you can meet in person, do that. Scheduling a tour of the organization with the intention of learning more about what they do can open the door to establishing or reestablishing that relationship.
We’d love to hear more about what you’re doing to build your partnerships, or even about your list of benefits. Feel free to post them here or email us direct.