At Howard Tech, our mission is to “build community.” For us, that means excellent service, win-win business relationships and active participation in all sorts of groups, non-profits, and opportunities where our goals align with those of others. Our success depends on the success of our clients, so we intentionally work with companies located close by, to serve them better. Our pricing model delivers shared success. We encourage our team to be involved – professionally in business organizations AND in serving with non-profits that are community oriented. These relationships have been the key driver for our business development efforts.
Business development is complex, and community partnerships are one strategy you might employ. To do it well requires a commitment that should not be taken lightly. As an individual, it is impossible to have meaningful engagements with every organization, chamber of commerce, and networking group. To build real and lasting partnerships, you should ask other individuals in your company to be a part of certain groups that they are passionate about or would like to be a part of.
To truly gain the most of these relationships, you should think about community partnerships from a strategic perspective. It seems you might first consider the questions below:
What does your business want to accomplish with community engagement?
Here are just a few ideas:
- New business
- A referral network
- Recruiting employees or interns
- Brand awareness
- Speaking opportunities
- A voice in local government
- Public service
Which organizations or individuals would we like to connect with?
Some examples might include a chamber of commerce, community leadership organizations (i.e. Leadership Howard County), regional organizations (i.e. BWI Business Partnership), industry-specific councils, associations, faith based groups, sports activities and more.
What are some benefits that might accrue through this effort?
Of course that depends on your goal, and the organization you choose. The important point to consider is that for each potential partner, what would you like to accomplish? Many businesses jump into a membership group without a strategy, and then are surprised when they don’t accomplish much through it.
How can we contribute to these organizations or people?
Assume you would like to meet potential clients through a partner organization. That’s a legitimate goal, but one that might turn off people who are there to serve and engage. Does your company have something of value you can share with the organization? How can you volunteer or support the partnership’s objectives? By serving together with potential prospects, you will build relationships to leverage when they are in need of your services.
Who is the right person for each of the various community groups that you want to touch?
Some organizations may justify a senior executive getting involved, because the strategic value is there. Other partnerships have smaller groups or circles that may be more suitable for a young professional. The Howard County Chamber of Commerce has a a Young Professionals Network, which is a growth opportunity for some of your younger staff. Howard Tech supports Girls On the Run because one of our team members has a passion for that cause. As you consider partnerships and the questions above, it’s important you have the right person on your team involved so your company and your partner gets maximum benefit.
There are tons of conversations on building partnerships but what does that mean to you and your company? Hopefully, thinking and discussing these questions will help you create a definition that will drive your vision of your business.