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Thrive Circles: How to Build Relationships That Lead to Strategic Partnerships

The professional connections you have now hold the potential to transform into strong strategic partnerships if you are intentional with them. Natalie Hauff, Deputy Director of Innovation at the Charleston County Public Library, led the first Thrive Circle last week, facilitating a conversation on how to create and maintain mutually beneficial partnerships with other organizations.

Here are four key takeaways:

Stay committed
Forming strategic partnerships takes time and effort; it requires you to go beyond email. Actively listen, follow up and follow through. It can be easy to let relationships slip through the cracks when other work demands your attention, but if you put in the work to foster these partnerships, you will see a return on your investment.

Be transparent
While you may enjoy the personal relationship aspect of a partnership, it is important to be transparent about your other motivations. Being honest about what you hope to gain keeps expectations clear and helps both partners achieve the most benefit for their organizations.

Start small
At the beginning of your career, it may seem unachievable to create significant partnerships with executive-level individuals or larger organizations. While these partnerships can be achieved with commitment and time, don’t be afraid to start small. If you are a young professional, seek out connections with people at your level who have a growth mindset. You’ll see these relationships evolve and present opportunities for partnership as you continue down your career path.

Don’t burn bridges
Sometimes partnerships go south. If this happens and you cannot resolve the situation, take action to phase out the partnership, but avoid completely cutting ties. Rather, try to find a way to put a pin in it. You may discover that the partnership can be rekindled later down the road, be it because of a change of staff, new opportunities or other circumstances.

Attendees of this Thrive Circle thoughtfully discussed these topics and more with Natalie, who answered all questions on the topic thoughtfully, encouraging attendees to start putting her advice into action.

“Thrive Circle really emboldened me and made me feel empowered to go forth with my new ideas and creativity. I spent most of yesterday reconnecting with community partners I’ve known for years, setting up coffee and lunch dates.”

Kelsi Brewer, Director of Community Affairs at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center

Thrive Circles is a program designed to foster professional growth and development through targeted discussions with experts across various topics, from effective communication to negotiation tactics to building strategic partnerships.

Our next Thrive Circle will be held in the summer; keep an eye out for more details. In the meantime, join us at our Thrive Social on April 11!

Posted on
March 28th 2024
Written by
Daphne Johnson