Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Business Partnerships

I've spent the last two days in 9-5 business meetings with a new partner of IDW's. I can't talk about what it's for, who it is, or any details whatsoever yet. Announcements to come, I'm sure. But what I can talk about briefly is the experience of meeting with a new partner for the first time.

With any partnership, it's a lot like a first date. Lots of questions, very few answers. And on top of that, there's the added drama of not knowing if the person you've known up to this point is the real person underneath.

These last couple of days couldn't have gone any better. The best way to approach a partnership is with an open mind and total honesty. That doesn't mean anyone should be a jerk, but being honest about one's thoughts and opinions is a good thing. There's a bit of an art to how some of those opinions are presented.

It's always a good idea (and this applies to talking with an editor if you're a freelancer or when speaking to a freelancer if you're an editor) to bring up a problem or potential problem ONLY if you have at least one idea on how to fix it.

If you bring up a criticism, also be upbeat about something you do like. In this case, these last couple of days, the new partner was extremely open. Offering us looks at materials not yet released to the public, not yet announced to the public in some cases. Very open about exchanging ideas and potential crossovers with promotions and such.

Above all else, they were excited about the partnership and their own projects. It's infectious. Five minutes in the room with them and I was excited too. They really had the three key ingredients for a good partnership (company to company or person to person).

1. Open to New Ideas
With any partnership, no one party is going to control everything. Both need to be open to the other's desires and wishes. In this case, that was clear from the first hour of meetings. Just a constant flow of ideas from both parties.

2. Transparent with Their Plans and Desires
They walked us right into their new project launches, the publicity pushes, and the big events they've got planned. In turn, we did the same with our own. It allows both groups to begin to plan together and builds a level of trust immediately. They've got my secrets and I've got theirs. That's hard to do.

3. Readiness to Help Share the Load
And, again with any partnership, we're in it together. And that was made clear also. We're going to be pooling our resources. And that's a really great feeling--to know that the real experts are excited about the partnership and willing to helps us make a better project for them. It makes it a lot easier for us both to know that the other is there to lend a hand when needed.

Anyway, that's the way I see it. It's funny how many things in life are made easier by being honest, open to new ideas or ways to do things, and the simple willingness to lend a stranger a helping hand.


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