How to Generate Great Partnerships

By 25 Aug ’16Networking
Photo Credit: Emily Kerry (c) 2016

“That’s for you.”

Surprised, I took the cup of coffee my friend Marcel had purchased for me. “Wow, thanks,” I said as we began our weekly meeting.

Marcel (pictured to the right) is a regular contributor to inc.com and had just finished his article for the day. He is a fountain of ideas, but it wasn’t our meeting that day that generated the ideas—it was the gift of the cup of coffee. The cup of the coffee, for me, was like an invite into relationship.

Here's Marcel with the cup of coffee he bought me.

Here’s Marcel with the cup of coffee he bought me.

I find that so many in leadership find themselves going it alone. Want to know how to fix that? Try giving a gift.

Marcel and I have been meeting to design a learning opportunity for business leaders in the Chattanooga area. But first, we are practicing the idea on ourselves and reflecting afterward about what was helpful and what wasn’t.

“So what are you working on today?” I asked. “I was just finishing up answering a few inquiries that came from my last newsletter,” he said. Then he shared the story of a manager who was trying to figure out ways to help the VP in her organization become a better VP while maintaining a posture of respect.

It’s hard to talk while you are sipping a cup of coffee, so I was positioned to listen well. Just the gift of the coffee helped me make the space to listen. Imagine what kind of partnerships you could create if you tried giving a gift?

Why Gifts Create Partnerships

After our meeting was over, I got to thinking how many people work with someone who is stuck in a rut. Then I wondered how many times people could pull themselves out of that rut if someone would give them a gift, like a cup of coffee. Here’s why—gifts open the door for relationship. As I’ve written about before, my belief is that two of the top things that matter in life are risk and relationship. Gifts open the door for relationships and that makes space for a conversation. Sure it’s risky to go out on a limb and attempt a new partnership, but how would you know unless you try? In giving a gift, you’ll notice that the conversations that happen in those spaces can give the chance for new ideas to be generated too.

We do so many things by ourselves—giving gifts opens the door for a partnership. Try it out.

Bring someone a cup of coffee.
Buy someone lunch.
Bring some food to share at work in the lunch room.
If you’ve got some creative ideas, let me know, I’d love to hear them (and maybe even write about them).

Leaving my meeting with Marcel, I headed over to the grocery story to buy a couple of things. I set a gallon of milk up on the counter and I heard the beep of the automatic scanner. Not knowing it, I’d added the milk to the bill of the gentlemen in front of me. “Woops, sorry about that, I said.”

“It’s no problem,” he said. “I’ll take care of it.”

Awkwardly, I said, “come on, you don’t need to do that.” But he insisted, “No, I’m happy to.”

So the guy bought my gallon of milk as he said, “the way I see it is, the world could use a few good deeds. I hope you’ll pass it on at the right time.” With that he left me my milk and headed out the door with his infant son in his arms.

As I paid (for the rest of my groceries) and went out to the parking lot, he was just finishing loading his groceries and we talked a bit. Why? Because he gave a gift. That made the opportunity for a relationship and that made way for a conversation. Do you see my point here? Gifts create opportunity for relationships which can lead to partnerships which can lead to new ideas.

Who in your life needs some new ideas? Get them a gift and it’ll make the space for a conversation to happen. Try it out.

If there’s any way I can be helpful to you, I enjoy getting to know who my readers are. Feel free to send me a note. Kick off your Friday tomorrow with a gift for someone and let me know how it goes.

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