Building Up An Extensive Partnership Network For Your Community

October 15, 2014Comments Off on Building Up An Extensive Partnership Network For Your Community

Your community lives in an ecosystem filled with other people and organisations.

The better your relationships with these others, the greater the benefits for your community.

Your community has a lot to offer any organisation. It can raise the profile of an individual within their sector. It can raise awareness of an issue the group cares about. 

It is worth setting aside one or two hours each week to build and maintain relationships with the key organisations and people within your ecosystem. This can lead to content, new members, free products/services, and plenty more.

Our approach to this is three fold:

1) Who do we approach

2) How do we reach them?

3) What do we ask them? 

 

Who to approach?

This is easy.

Approach the companies your members already mention. Approach the vendors or producers of the tools/services they use. Approach the authors of books they mention.

Approach the people doing interesting things in the sector. Approach the people who are the experts, have the most powerful, or otherwise are highly involved in the space. Approach those who have the biggest audience in the sector. 

 

How to approach them

Many companies don't list their staff or e-mail addresses on their website. Finding the right people can be difficult. 

There are three routes to this. I've listed these in order of success:

1) Ask for a referral. If you use LinkedIn, ask for a referral from someone you know. This is the most powerful. You can begin the conversation with {x} suggested I speak to you…"

2) Call up the company switchboard. This is usually the best option. Call up the switchboard and ask who you should speak to about the marketing or business development. They will either give you a name or put you through. 

3) Find the right person/e-mail address online. If the website doesn't list useful names, search for "site:www.linkedin.com {company name} AND {marketing/business development}". This will give you the right people to speak to. Then search for e-mail "@companydomain.com". Look for any named e-mail address of that company. This gives you the right e-mail format to use. If you can't find it, try [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], or the first letter of their first name and then their lastname e.g. ([email protected]). 

What to tell them

There are two stages here. You want to perk their interest enough to have a proper discussion.

Tell them you run a large community with xx thousand members. This might be the audience they would love to reach. You would like to schedule a call to discuss a potential partnership here.

Keep it really short. You want them to ask for more information, not agree to something right there. 

We get around a 60% to 75% response rate to these e-mails. 

Then in the call you can figure out a mutually beneficial partnership. There are various things we tend to ask for here. These include:

1) Can you e-mail your members/staff to join the community?

2) Can you put a link on your site? 

3) Can we put together an invite/discount code you can share with your members?

4) Can you share your latest news with us? 

5) Can you create a regular, weekly, expert-advice, column for us?

6) Can you give us discounts/free trials of your produces/services?

7) Would you like to sponsor the community (or community event?)

8) Can you share news from the community on your own site? 

9) Can we interview your CEO (or company star?)

10) Do you have any advice for us? 

We tend to quickly identify which ideas will work best and orientate our approach to match.

The goal is to build up an extensive network of key partners who support your community, send content/members to that community, and can share what your community is doing with their own audience. 

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