How To Be An Outstanding Business Partner    

Great partnerships are not only necessary in business, but extremely satisfying and rewarding.   


Over my 30 year career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many colleagues, partnering on both large and small projects.  

Whether it was:  

1) Co-authoring a book or article    

2)  Joint customer training/consulting while having my own consulting business    

3) Collaborating on large , multi-year project in the corporate world .    

What I’ve learned is that great partnering leads to more great partnering opportunities down the road, even after we’ve both moved to other jobs or companies. Conversely, once you’ve have a bad partnering experience, it becomes extremely difficult to give that partnership another try.   

So, what makes for an effective partnerships???

You’ve got to start by first being an outstanding partner:  

1.  Always show mutual respect and demonstrate that each other’s time is valuable:  

This includes small actions like, responding to emails quickly, being on-time to appointments, calling ahead if you’re going to be late, and of course, delivering on your promises.  

This seems very obvious professional courtesy, but I’ve experienced colleagues who demonstrate “rock star” behavior in a partnership.

2.   Understand your business partner’s strength and weaknesses – if possible, divide up the work to align with your partner’s strengths.  

If that’s not possible, then be understanding of the weaknesses and provide support where possible.

3.   Know the time constraints and other time pressures on your partner’s time – divide up the work accordingly.  

Oftentimes on a particular project, the time commitment is not going to be 50-50 .  

As long as that is understood upfront, a strong partnership relationship can still be possible. For the next project, the tide may be reversed and you will need your partner to align with your time pressures. Partner by example.

4.   Clearly communicate the project commitments and deliverables that you are responsible to complete.  

I strongly suggest writing them down the expectations to ensure no mis-understanding, even on small projects. An email may be sufficient.  

The written word has a way of forcing clarity on the joint understanding.   

5.   Constantly communicate, both formally and informally, on the progress of the deliverables.  

Be direct and timely, as surprises breeds distrust in a partnership. 

Constant communication also allows for mid course corrections. As an outstanding partner, be willing to pitch in to get the  job done if your partner is running behind, without feeling resentful for having to pick up the slack. 

Next- #6 through #9

Maria Villar
Maria Villar
Maria Villar is an information technology expert and a vice president at SAP, a global software company, with responsibility over the firm’s data management strategy & governance . She and Theresa Kushner co-write a regular column to They are co-authors of Managing Your Business Data: From Chaos to Confidence, published by Racom Books in 2008. Villar was recognized in Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the Top 100 Influential Hispanics, and received the Distinguished Hispanic IT Executive award from Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference.

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