Building Strong Professional Partnerships
As with any relationship, you start out with the best of intentions and hope that you can build and maintain something mutually beneficial for you both. However, the reality is that it doesn't always work out that way. Fortunately, when looking at developing professional relationships you have an opportunity to really drill down into what it is you are both looking for before you arrange your 'first date' to ensure you start out on the right track:
Research your potential professional partner to get a good understanding of their business and how you could work together to help your respective clients.
Introduce yourself by letter or email and highlight to them that you have done your due diligence and understand their business and the types of clients they work with.
Follow-up on your correspondence within 2-3 days, asking your assistant/PA to speak to their PA to arrange a face-to-face meeting with them as soon as possible.
Let go of the initial vanity parade you would like to display and avoid going in all guns blazing telling them how great you are and that you provide the best services to help their clients. Remember that they will have heard the same thing a hundred times before from other firms,
It's all about them, so find out what issues they may have had in the past with other firms and what they are looking to build/maintain their client base and if there are any specific areas where they may need your professional help.
Follow-up on the meeting with another letter or email, confirming what you have discussed, outlining how you will work with them to allay any fears or issues they may have previously had as well as the informing them abouy the clients you can provide them with that will complement their business proposition.
Now you have a better understanding of their business and the type of clients they are looking for you can start to highlight the benefits of working with your firm.
Arrange another meeting to showcase they key area/s that you discussed in your first meeting and where they could use your services. Discuss with them the clients you have in mind that you would like to refer to them.
Follow-up the meeting by arranging a time to introduce your referral clients to them face-to-face in an informal setting - this may be a good opportunity to host a client appreciation event for some of your key clients.
Move forward by working closely with them to build a reciprocal referral relationship and ensuring that the clients that have been referred are happy with the service they are receiving.
Starting out by building the relationship in this way, adds more credibility and trust to your proposition. Your professional partners will see that you care as much about their business and clients as you do about your own. After all, we all want to be in a relationship where the other person pays as much attention to us (if not moreso) to themselves.