Business partnerships are a great step for entrepreneurs looking to grow their business. However, knowing what to say and how to reach out can be difficult. Here is our 5 step process for approaching businesses and establishing partnerships with them.

Research the Business

First, research what you should look for in a business partnership. You do not want enter a partnership with a business that does not align with your goals.

Next, research local or prominent businesses you want to partner with. It is important to research these businesses for two reasons:

One, you ensure that these businesses fit your standards for a partnership. Do this by taking look at their website and social media channels.

Second, you will impress the business you are contacting by proving knowledgeable about their mission, vision, values, and services or products offered. It shows them that you did your homework and are invested in the partnership.

Find the Right Contact

Sometimes finding the right contact takes time, and it depends on the nature of the business.

If it is a small or local business, going straight to the Founder makes the most sense. Founders of SMEs often make all the business decisions, including the making of business partnerships.

Partnerships with large business can be a little trickier. The CEO may not be the correct person to contact. If you are unsure, the best strategy is to contact an administrator. From there, you can inquire about the right person to contact.

Determine the Right Medium

There are several ways to reach out, each with their own benefits. A simple phone call can be the most efficient method. However, it requires confidence and the ability to sell yourself over the phone.

Another great option is the tried and true email. It’s professional if you use your work email.

An increasingly popular route, however, is LinkedIn. This option allows you to quickly establish your credibility because your contact will be able to view your profile and the company you work for.  

Craft the Message

The best message is often the shortest and clearest. First, understand what you want to accomplish by reaching out. If you don’t know why you are contacting them or you act unclear, you will waste both your time and theirs’.

With that said, develop a professional relationship with your contact first before pitching yourself. Cold calling or emailing rarely works anymore. Start by asking to add your contact to your professional network. Express appreciation for the value their business provides. You could even purchase their services or products and provide positive, constructive feedback on what you thought.

Be concise and direct but courteous at all times. The last thing you want is to turn your contact off by being too pushy or salesy.

Follow Up

Keep the conversation going while it is still warm. Focus on providing value to your contact rather than asking for favours.

Once you have developed a solid connection, set up a face-to-face meeting. You can pitch yourself and open up more opportunities over coffee or Skype than email.

In person, explain clearly where you see a partnership working and what the benefit is to that business. Emphasis the value you bring to the partnering business, but do not pressure them for an answer right away.  

Professional relationships and business partnerships can take time to develop. Be patient and keep working at them. In time, you will see them payoff.