As a startup founder who only has a handful of successful businesswomen examples to follow in my country, I have to constantly look for female founders outside my region who inspire me to build my business. Often when I sneak into their business profiles, I find multiple areas of collaboration and learning.
In this endless search, I had developed a bit of a crush on a female entrepreneur and the founder of a fertility and menstrual tracking app. Considering she had been operating in the European region for 10 years, and I was starting a similar business in the Asian market, I thought talking to her would be a great opportunity to share notes and find synergies.
She was someone who had started the Femtech revolution globally, and her app was my go-to solution both before and during the time Aunt Flo came for her monthly visit.
I also knew that she spent a large portion of her time traveling, speaking at conferences and leading a huge team in Berlin. It’s always hard to build connections, networks, and partnerships across borders. But I was adamant that I would one day connect with her, and so as part of my New Year’s resolutions, I set out to do the following things:
- Start (off) by researching your partner well
All my stalking made me realize that while her company’s pages were super active, she kept a reasonably low profile on most social platforms. For authentic connection and networking with peers, she often used Linkedin.
I sent her a detailed PM on Linkedin sharing our common objectives for women empowerment, goals for better healthcare and my plans to visit Berlin soon. And guess what, a few weeks later, she responded with a very enthusiastic response setting up a Skype meeting with me, and her team.
2. Be flexible to the different possibilities of partnerships
One of our Lama users Teodora Busurca, co-founder of Sports Business Chain, has some great advice on this. She suggests that while doing your research on your potential partner, think about how you can co-create value for your stakeholders. But most importantly, how can an initial partnership become a long-term strategic relationship. Partnerships don’t always have to have a financial end goal – some could be about sharing resources, exchanging experiences and so much more.
3. Spend quality time listening to the partner
Like any good marriage, carefully listening to your partner is key to understanding their needs and goals for the partnership. Our Lama regular and entrepreneur Jesse Stoddard spends a lot of time doing video meetings with potential partners. This gives him time to listen to them and assess whether there is a “click” and their mutual goals align or not.
4. Do it in the name of learning
Just how not every date will go right; in the same way, not every business partnership will turn out to be as beneficial as you had hoped. Sometimes a partner may not call you back, return your email, (delete last comma) or let you in the door of their office. Sometimes you might not see a fit and want to continue the relationship (should this be ‘want to end the relationship’?). But that should not stop you from reaching (out to) another partner who may turn out to be your most supportive ally.
5. Make room for AHA moments
In my case, I flew from Pakistan to Berlin to meet this superstar entrepreneur and her team in person. Walking into her office, I witnessed the culture she had created, the energy and passion her team encapsulated and the commitment they had to the company vision. Taking a tour made me visualize the future I wanted to create for my business in my country. In our meeting, she also managed to spot some of my biggest fears and helped me resolve many of them with her experiences in the industry.
6. Last but not least, don’t get impatient
While the process of reaching and meeting my ideal business partner took roughly 3-4 months, the time she spent mentoring and coaching me on my challenges was one of the best investments I have made for my business. So remember, there is no rushing this process. Sometimes a cold lead may turn hot and a hot lead may turn cold. Just don’t let any small or big disappointment stop you from reaching out to different partners.
Are you looking to find partners for your business? Lama has one of the largest networks of entrepreneurs, influencers and key organizational heads on its app. Use our app to find the right partner, send them a direct question and get them excited about your business vision.