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5 Criteria to Help You Choose Valuable Partners

I was in a meeting the other day, and I had thought it would last a maximum of an hour, since it was just a discovery meeting — one where you generally explore the possibilities of a collaboration.

Before I knew it, I was sitting there for more than two hours. We probably discussed a lot more than just business, but, the important part was how I came out feeling: I’d be happy to work with these people.

This has happened to me in the past too — people who I’ve gone on to work with have often been those who I’ve had long conversations with…those who have a lot to share with you and you have a lot to share with them.

It’s this mutual exchange that makes partnerships so fulfilling… And it all begins with trust. Because without trust you would not be able to share much…you would clamp up and only stick to business, and the association will remain a transactional one, not one that is long-lasting and satisfying.

Thus, the first indicator of any good partnership — in your personal or professional life — is this feeling of inherent trust…as that will ultimately lead to more openness, allowing you to give your best, and letting the other extract the best from you too.

This led me to think about how one can go about choosing appropriate partners…especially in the case of business. But I personally believe life is one composite whole, so they could apply to your other life partnerships too… You decide what works, and feel free to add your own criteria in the comments below too.

So here’s who you may find more synergy with…

  1. Those who share a common value system

A value system is a set of beliefs… In the case of business, it’s the rules you use to conduct your business… For example, you may decide to only partner with companies that are Eco-friendly or those who refuse to partner with defaulting companies, or who have a keen understanding of compliance. People who represent their companies will represent these values too, and you will get hints of it in your conversations…

Also, look out for the ‘we’ in conversations…the people who use it often are those who feel a strong sense of identity with the company and its values…and will stand by them.

2. Those who follow similar work ethics

Everyone has a particular working rhythm…a way of delivering and performing. These essentially emerge from your sense of work ethics… For instance, some may always deliver promptly no matter what the situation, while others may make excuses for delays. Another example, is sloppy delivery, some may go out of their way to give you what you want, and even make multiple iterations, while some may expect you to settle for a shoddy job.

All this is a reflection of ethics, and as a business partner you will sync best with those who have the same work ethics as you.

3. Those who value growth

Yes, we’re all partnering to enable growth, be it monetary to better our lives, or professionally to enhance our talent and skill set. The best partners are those who allow everyone involved to grow equally… They don’t just wish to benefit from a deal themselves, or only grow their own companies, they take along vendors, partners, and often customers too, in their growth. They ensure everyone has a piece of the pie, and no one is shortchanged…

Partnerships are meant to be mutually beneficial, and only those partners who reflect this approach will help you grow as an individual or company. Thus, partner with those who demonstrate this inherent sense of fairness.

4. Those who allow dissent

This one’s important, because it reflects the capacity for creative freedom in any association. When a partner allows you to disagree, present an alternate view, and even lets you tell them they are erring in some way, it shows an openness for growth and change.

In meetings, you can tell this by noticing who is dominating the conversation. If it is one-sided, with very little input from your end, you know the partner is unlikely to allow for much creative freedom.

5. Those who challenge your limits

Yes, an ideal partnership is one that pushes your creative limits…that allows you to experiment and work on projects that are both challenging and novel. If a partnership brings with it the opportunity to grow your skills and knowledge, it will always keep you engaged.

This also means that both partners involved will have to grow at an equal pace. Both will have to stretch their resources — time and money — and give the other the space to experiment and evolve.

Whether it’s professional or personal, partnerships are always about finding a balance…and this balance can only be achieved when both sides are more or less equal, like in the case of a see-saw.

The equality in partnerships is seldom about resources, experience, or capacity, but more about a common sharing of values, ethics and equal opportunity for growth.

Moreover, each partner needs to assess the strengths of the other, and see how they can bring together commonalities and differences to collaborate in a more harmonious way.

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