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Working Together: 7 Partnership Essentials

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Nate Smoyer is the owner and founder of SmoyerProperties.com and JabEmail.com and often consults with medium to large businesses on digital marketing strategies. He also is a contributor to Trending Up: Social Media Strategies for Today’s Church (Salubris Resources). Here he shares how to create lasting partnerships that will greater benefit your ministry.

1. Trust whom you work with.

This sounds so simple and basic but it’s absolutely fundamental. If you don’t trust the people or organizations you work with, you will only leave yourself vulnerable to unnecessary liabilities. Trust must exist on both sides so that each party handles their commitments. Ensuring trust will generally increase the level of commitment from both parties, making your partnership stronger.

2. Articulate the purpose or reason for the partnership.

Putting your partnership into words will actually enhance your mutual trust. Being able to communicate to your team and to the partner what the purpose of the partnership is allows each party to remain focused on working together. Knowing your purpose in partnering will allow you to stay on track to achieve your objectives.

3. Set clear and measurable expectations.

As someone who started wheeling and dealing more than 15 years ago on a public/private partnership, I have experienced many times the pain of results falling short of expectations. The most painful times were when I had one set of expectations and the partner had another. Perhaps your ministry is looking to host a conference for couples. You choose to partner with a few companies to help cover the expense of the event. Then the day of the conference comes and you’re thrilled with attendance, but the sponsors thought the crowd was going to be twice as large. Setting clear and measurable expectations upfront will help you avoid ambiguity of results and ease the pain if results fall short.

4. Create a written, actionable plan.

I can’t emphasize this point enough. Over the course of meetings, phone calls and Google Hangouts, both parties will inevitably keep notes—but different notes. If you assume both sides have captured everything discussed and continue without a written plan, you may find yourself confused on what went wrong in the end. Create a written and actionable plan both you and your partner agree upon.

5. Follow through on your commitments.

When you’re considering partnering with other organizations, you need to be committed to following through on your word. This includes post-event wrap-ups and evaluations. A partnership can still be a success if the numbers fall short so long as both parties remain dedicated to improving the results. Follow through on your commitments to the end so you may see your greatest potential output.

6. Leave money on the table.

I don’t mean this literally, although if you decide to leave dollar bills on a table that may attract a crowd. In partnerships, we’re often focused only on our internal objective. Resist the urge to squeeze every bit out of your partners when negotiating royalties, speakers’ fees and other financial items. Leave money on the table and others will actively seek partnerships with you in the future.

7. Pray.

Tips, keys, hints and tricks are all good for accomplishing our objectives. However, let us not leave out our Lord. When you’re considering a partnership, whether with other Christian ministries or the local government, seek the blessing of God on your partnerships. Pray for clarity, protection, guidance and grace.

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Twitter: @NateSmnoyer

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