• Steven Kohnke

How to Build Strategic Partnerships


Sharon: Good morning, everyone, it's Sharon Heller, and I'm here this morning with Steven Kohnke from Denver Business Coach. Good morning, Steven.


Steven: Hi Sharon, how are you doing this morning?


Sharon: I'm good. Looking forward to our conversation today. What is our topic this morning?


Steven: So as we've been talking about, we did some qualitative research, really polling business owners, asking where they're showing up in their business, where they're not, where are their strengths, where their weaknesses are throughout this year. And one of those questions that we asked was about networking and building your strategic partnerships and how well that they thought that they're doing there.


Steven: And the average score on those was 3.7 out of 5. So I thought we kind of talk a little bit about that here today, maybe come up with some good strategies and kind of demystify some of the good networking skills that we have.


Sharon: Great. Looking forward to hearing your tips. So how would you describe strong networking skills?


Steven: Let's first talk about what poor networking looks like. And to contrast that, I think when people hear the term networking, they kind of get that "icky vibe." At least people who are super familiar with it. It's like, I don't want to go meet new people and talk business and do all that stuff. And I really think it's because of those types of experiences.


Steven: And that's really more of that commonly known experience from networking is, you go to one of those, you have a couple of surface-level conversations, someone talks about themself and what their business is, and how you can help them grow their business in and say, hey, do you know anyone that would want to use me rather than that, that vice versa there?


Steven: That person will go on to the next person, turn around and do a business card, say call me, turnaround to the next person, and continue to have that same conversation. I think that's what most people think of when they think of going to a networking event as having those experiences.


Steven: So on the flip side of that is a good networker. And the good skills to me is all about the active listening, being really curious about the other person. Not only professionally but personally as well, asking a lot of questions, being humble. And one of the things that I'm always thinking about is how can I help this person get connected with someone that I know that can help them grow their business.


Steven: So what are those things that this person is saying that I'm like, oh, you know, George is going to be a great connection for this person or something along those lines. So it's really that experience and having deeper conversations, is what I believe, good networking skills look like. And you can really feel that difference. Right?


Sharon: Yeah, absolutely, and just to add one thing, I think so many people also think about networking as events, that you network at events. But I find that most of the networking I'm doing is actually outside of that event. It's about the follow-up and the follow-through. I could go to networking events for the rest of my life and actually never really network, never really follow up, never really provide introductions to somebody so.


Steven: Right. Keeping those connections going. Yeah, that's a big piece of that.


Sharon: So then I guess the next step and I think is one of the outcomes we're all looking for through networking, is building those strong strategic partnerships. So why are those relationships and those partnerships so critical to growing a successful business?


Steven: Yeah, building relationships in businesses is a key component, which, from conversations that I've had over the years, everyone knows that relationships are important in business, but no one knows or understands the skills of how to foster those relationships, which we just talked about.


Steven: So building the strong strategic partnership base is important for the growth of any business, because you have other experts in your corner. You have the ability to build trust. You can grow your business in a much more cost-effective way by doing that, financially speaking, at least, especially when we're comparing it to like a digital marketing strategy, cost per clicks or social media or anything like that, where it takes good amounts of dollars to actually build some traction.


Steven: And strategic partnerships are definitely more of the long term sustaining growth relationships to grow a business. So you're really looking at more of that long-term with the strategic partnerships than you are more of that short-term.


Sharon: Yeah, so that being said, what are some strategies business owners can use to really strengthen those strategic relationships that you're talking about?


Steven: For going into a networking scenario where we first talked about, where it's kind of a group of people and maybe you're going alone, for me it was really having a plan. Having a plan of action and really having a couple of really good questions that I could fall back on if I needed to. That really gave me the confidence that I needed to spark conversations because I'm naturally an introvert. I don't like to go out and just "how are you doing" and start up a conversation like that.


Steven: So for me, coming up with a plan. And for your business and when you're really trying to build the trust of relationships of referral type of growth business, is looking at what's your specialty? And we've talked about niching down in the past. What is your specialty? What is your lane? And then what are the areas of which other specialties are solving the same problem? And building those types of relationships, those are real strategic, real strength building and real long term type relationships that will really help sustain the growth of any business.


Sharon: Yeah, really valuable points today, Steven. Anything you want to add before we wrap up today?


Steven: Yes, if you're interested in learning more about these types of strategies and what might be a good partner for you to be going after, and how to build those relationships because there's a way to do it, just let us know at DenverBusinessCoach.com and we'd be happy to have that conversation.


Sharon: All right. Well, thanks for the conversation today, Steven. Have a great day.

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