Relationship building is one of the most important things you can do in your life. Your relationships can be the fund sourcing you need to start up your entrepreneurial endeavors. It can be the very thing that can elevate your personal brand or take your career to new heights.
Teneshia Jackson Warner is a true example of this after using the power of partnership to help jumpstart her career trajectory. Before becoming the CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Egami Consulting Group, Teneshia left her corporate job to pursue a career she was passionate about and would let her feel fulfilled each day. She told Essence.com, “You have to give in order to get. To discover my next career move, I offered my services for no charge.”
After a brief encounter with Russell Simmons, she persistently contacted his office for 30 days until she ran into him again to pitch herself for an opportunity to learn from him. From there, she created her first partnership that helped the trajectory of her career. “Essentially the offer that I made him was a partnership. It was a mutually beneficial win for both parties. What was in it for Russell is that he got an individual who had 5 years of corporate experience to work for him. For me I got the opportunity to learn the entertainment industry, urban culture and urban marketing, and I really never had that experience before,” she shared.
Teneshia’s partnership with Russell helped her gain the necessary knowledge and expertise for marketing to a multicultural audience, which lead her to launching her own company. The Egami Group is a multicultural agency that connects brands to diverse audiences. Teneshia's company partners with general market agencies who lack the expertise for connecting with multicultural audiences, celebrities and online influencers. Teneisha has played a hand in making partnerships a reality for her business ventures and her clients. "What partnership means to me is when two partners come together and they identify a win-win solution. They really come together to see what each wants, what each can bring to the table and what is the intersect point where you both can support each other. I call it a win-win-win model. That’s where every partner and every party at the table has a winning solution," she shared.
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In the midst of putting the final touches on her fourth annual Dream Project Symposium, Teneshia sat down to share her tips for understanding the power of partnership:
DON'T COME TO THE TABLE THINKING ONLY OF YOURSELF
I think coming to the table completely focused on what’s in it for you is mistake number one. When you come to the table and it’s about your agenda, your objectives and what you desire is not the right approach. You really can’t find what the win-win is unless you are really seeking to understand what is the partner’s goal, what is the partner’s objective and what is a win for that partner. You have to listen and understand the need of the individual and entity that you partner with. You and the partner can make an assessment on whether this will work for you and their goals and their vision.
KNOW WHO YOU ARE IN THE EQUATION
Once a partnership is in place, you need to know when to give and when to push. For example, certain things for the sake of the partnership you may be more flexible, you may be more willing to give. You may be in a place where you are proving yourself in a partnership, and it’s not the time for you to show up negotiating as if you are the strongest asset at the table. You need to know who you are in the equation. Have a true assessment and not an ego assessment. Know if you are pushing too much to the point where you are about to break the partnership or ruin the whole deal. You don’t want to be perceived as a hard person to work with and not a collaborative partner.
BE AUTHENTIC IN THE PARTNERSHIPS YOU CHOOSE
You can’t go into a partnership based on something that is not true to you. For example, you are a celebrity getting ready to go into a hair care deal. In order for that to be really authentic, you need to use those hair care products. You need to be passionate about those hair care products. Consumers are savvy and they can understand when it’s a real authentic partnership or when it’s someone who will just take a check.
Depending on the partnership, nowadays they feel like marriages. Be very selective in what types of partnerships you get in and be selective in knowing if this is right for me in the long term.
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ALWAYS SEEK TOOLS, RESOURCES & INSPIRATION
Conferences, symposiums and networking events are great ways to build relationships and learn the necessary skills to develop partnerships, just like The Dream Project.
In its fourth year, The Dream Project was created to support professionals in being able to take their business projects to the next level. “I think going into an information resource setting, you will have the opportunity to hear from iconic entrepreneurs like Magic Johnson, Jennifer Fleiss of Rent the Runway, Miss Robbie of OWN. You get a lot of nuggets and wisdom on what did they do right and what did they do wrong,” she shared. The symposium took place on April 21 and 22, and offered attendees the chance to hear from digital experts, Millennial CEOs, as well as a session of powerful women who shared their secrets to success. “They can utilize The Dream Project as a resource and a tool. They can walk away and immediately to apply the things that they learned to their brand or small business," Teneisha added.
Ultimately you have to know who you are, what you stand and where your brand aligns when seeking a partnership. "I think the big thing you can do is to become extremely self aware. Know your skills, your value and what you are bringing to the table. In order to form that partnership, you have to know what it is you can offer the other person. Do the work to understand your value, so that you can clearly articulate that when you are pitching yourself," Teneisha advised.
If you are ready to attract a bigger audience, and don't have a huge marketing budget, the right partnerships can be key to elevating your brand and taking it to the next level. By partnering with companies and brands who are targeting the same audience, you’ll be able to create a bigger brand presence and awareness for your content, products and services.