How to Turn a Connection into a Partnership

By Emily Merrell
Aug. 21, 2019

Networking isn’t too far off from dating. It’s a bit nerve-wracking, you hope the other person likes you and there’s a pretty good chance you could get rejected. Yet romantic feelings aside, when you know you have a good connection -- you just know! However, one of the challenges we face in networking is how and when to turn your connection into a partnership without jeopardizing your connection. Generally, if I see an opportunity to partner, I pounce on it. As the owner of a female focused networking organization, Six Degrees Society, we’re constantly partnering with the newest wine brands, snacks and cool spaces. So how do I turn a connection into a partnership? I’m spilling my secrets below.

1. The “Ask”

Partnerships ideas can hit at the most unexpected moments. Often times, I’ll meet someone and say, “We should do something together.” Rather than waiting to craft a formal partnership, I’ll send an informal email to that person to continue the conversation. For example, after recently meeting a female golf pro I had the idea for a weekend golf 101 event for women. I quickly emailed her (“Let’s talk about an event” in the subject line) to keep the momentum going. The next step is getting on a call to flush out all the details.

2. Find the solution to their problem

Creating a partnership involves a mutually beneficial opportunity where both parties walk away feeling like they got more. What is the problem that your potential needs can solve? A few examples of problems:

  • Do they need brand awareness for their product or space?
  • Do they need marketing assets for their website or social media platforms?
  • Do they need testimonials from real consumers?

After identifying their problem, identify the solution and figure out how it would benefit your business as well.

For example:

  • You need to keep your overhead low and need alcohol for an upcoming event.
  • You are looking for a venue space that is stylish but free.
  • You want to introduce your members to cool products and once they see a new, cool product they typically tag them and you on Instagram.

The connections that turn into the strongest partnerships start with mutually beneficial opportunities for both parties.

3. Give more than you take

I like to give new brands a platform to market themselves. While I’m excited to introduce my audience to their offerings, I am also excited to get in front of their communities for cross-promotional purposes.

4. Over-communicate

Partnerships happen weekly for us but for a first-time partner, it’s best to over communicate everything. Make it clear and spell it out on what you’re providing and what they’re providing. Communication around run-of-show, questions for a panel and information about who will be in attendance is also beneficial. For our events, we let our partners know the following:

  • We will create all event marketing materials from the RSVP page to the graphics for social media.
  • We will handle securing the venue, providing food and drink and marketing to our audience.
  • Our partner will share the graphics with their community.
  • Our partner will manage all materials they need for their presentation.
  • Please arrive 30 minutes before the event starts for pictures.

A lot of this happens over email, but because we hopped on an initial call right away together, we also have flexibility to work through details over the phone if need be.

5. Continue to nurture the relationship

Once the partnership has ended, it’s vital to send a thank you email thanking them for their time, asking for feedback and suggesting ways you can partner again in the future. This is also a great time to hop on a quick call if they prefer chatting versus emailing.

Turning a connection into a partnership can be fun and rewarding. Every new connection should inspire you in some way. While it might not yield a partnership, a connection is something that is important to be maintained since it’s impossible to see where a connection can take you. I urge all my clients to stay top of mind to their connections so they are always thinking of you or your business as the solution to a problem.

About Six Degrees Society: We are a women’s networking group that hosts a diversified series of monthly programming for millennial young professionals. In two years, Six Degrees has evolved into much more than strictly professional networking; we are now an ever-growing community of women all over the country who empower themselves and each other, are hungry to learn new skills, and are tomorrow’s game changers.

We strive to maximize your time and make connecting easier. Through a referral program all attendees are friends of friends of friends and are pre-approved by our community. We take the guesswork out of who you meet while at networking events, creating a warm and inviting environment to be the authentic version of yourself.

How does it work? At each event we handpick who you meet while networking followed by our amazing programming. That means you'll met two people for 15 minutes each as well as get the bios and contact information of all the attendees. Now that's networking with intention.