Maintaining strong partnerships is probably the most important thing you can do on a day-to-day basis to increase your influence. The reason? Strong partnerships are built on trust, and if I trust you, I’m going to be more open to your ideas. I won’t question your credibility, and I’ll assume that you have some knowledge about my own perspective on the situation. Strong partners are also more likely to go to bat for one another. So not only am I more receptive to direct influence, but I’m also more likely to help a partner indirectly by providing perspective, advocating for their idea, or acting as their ally or even their surrogate in an influence conversation.
So how do we create these strong partnerships? They don’t just happen—they need continual nurturing.
One of the simplest things you can do to get a new partnership off to a good start or to repair a struggling partnership is to set or reset communication. To build a foundation of trust, focus on making sure that your partner is getting the information they need with these five steps:
Acknowledge that your communication may have been lacking in the past (in the case of an existing relationship)
Ask what they need to know and how they want to find out.
Plan your communication by outlining what, when and how.
Get into a rhythm like weekly emails with a consistent, easy-to-read format or monthly discussions with a set agenda
Be careful of the “out of sight, out of mind” trap; don’t rely on the “who you see” method of remembering what and with whom you need to communicate.