Businesses often (smartly) leverage partnerships to increase their offerings for customers. These partnerships can be informal relationships with minimal offerings or they can be more substantial with services offered in conjunction with a company’s core product. Whatever form your partnerships take, it is important to make sure that the give-and-take is profitable for both parties.
For starters, it is necessary to manage expectations with partners. For instance, you might have a partner scheduled to lead a hangout for your Google+ followers, offering them exposure in return for their expertise. However, there are certain expectations that they need to meet: preparing beforehand and presenting relevant, interesting material, beginning and ending on time, offering a compelling discussion, etc. You need to be able to rely on these individuals or risk losing face in front of the fan base you’ve built for your company. Thus, if that partner has a history of being flaky or unprepared, you should think twice before scheduling this type of activity with them.
Indeed, you should not be afraid to fire problem partners just as quickly as you would problem customers. In fact, it is even more important to cultivate a high-quality partner network, since they are a facet of the face of your company even if they are not actually employed there. Fortunately, you can incorporate partner activities into your project management system with relative ease. You will need to assign someone within your company to enter time and ROI of projects completed with partners, in addition to any budgeted costs and percentage of project complete.
It is also a good idea to factor in partnership management responsibilities of your employees, because time wasted on inattentive or ineffectual partners negatively impacts your bottom line. Remember, the opportunity costs for negative partnerships can keep your employees from performing truly productive tasks, and will subvert time from creating lasting relationships with genuinely fantastic partners. Be flexible, particularly when partners are helping you without financial requirements. But, when it is clear that they are underperforming for you, drop them and do not look back. A moment of hurt feelings is not worth a long-term drain on time and resources.