Would you partner with this businessman? Posed by a professional model. Photostock.

The janky business partner; golden on paper, but glitter dust in person. He is the smooth talking, well-connected, well-dressed whiz kid, who, unfortunately, just can’t seem to add value to your collaborative venture.
How did you end up partnering with this guy, anyway?

Tips to Avoid the Janky Partnership


Takeyah A. Young and Akilah S. Richards presented a session on strategic partnerships during the recent Blogging While Brown convention held in Los Angeles. The bloggers provided several tips on how to minimize risk and involvement with potentially shady partnerships.

Assess yourself.
Questions you should include in your internal assessment are: What are your key desired outcomes? What are your key concerns about partnering with others? What do you or your organization bring to the table, that is, what are the benefits for your partner? How can you ensure that you’ll obtain value from your partnership?

Stick to your core values.
“One of my business values is about health and wellness, so I’m not going to partner with an organization that does not support health and wellness,” explained Takeyah A. Young. “As I begin to evaluate working with people I think, does this really match my core value around health and wellness? And working from that place is very important.”

Build paper walls for your expectations — and flexibility.
“The idea of paper walls is that the walls are your parameters that are fluid to give you and your partner that space. When you have that partnership, you’re dealing with more than just you and that first parameter you set up. So you leave room with paper walls for that sort of adjustment so that you can get to that common goal. It really is a marriage, even if that partnership is for something simple like creating a product together, or something as massive as a 5,000-person event. Talk about what you do, what I do, and what we can do together,” says Richards.

Keep a record of agreements and promised deliverables.
“Non-disclosure agreements, letters of intent, and memorandums of understanding, help with the history so you can actually identify and outline what is OK and what isn’t OK from the beginning when you begin to work with different people,” Young explains. “This is very important as you try to put things into action as you move forward and start to work with partners.”

Young and Richards advise that as soon as you realize that you’re actually going to enter into a partnership, that it’s more than an intention, you must devise an exit strategy.

Deputy Editor, Rolling Out

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