Today, I want to talk about partnership. Not partners, as in one or many who hold an ownership stake in your firm, but those you may team with from time to time. To my firm, and to me as a leader and recruiter, these partnerships have become paramount. By partnering with clients I have seen my business grow. By partnering with candidates, I have expanded my network and by partnering with other recruiters and firms, I have done both.

Now it was not always this way. I fell into the trap I believe many new recruiting firm owners fall into. I believed that it was me against them, kill or be killed. I would closely guard every action and was suspicious of other firms. Sure, I was growing my business but my business was not flourishing.

This changed when another recruiter, one that I knew as a designer, reached out to me with a candidate. I had a role in New York, and the person knew someone who might fit. As we started to work together, placing the candidate in New York, we started to exchange ideas. I soon realized that I was gaining a new perspective on recruiting, and it was exciting. I also learning that the information I was sharing was helping another grow. It was very rewarding, for the both of us.

Now, I do not give away the farm to everyone who calls. Some things must be proprietary, but not everything. So how did I know where to draw the line? For me, it was trial and error and listening to my gut about what was ok and what did not feel right. As my partnerships grew and others developed I created a checklist of shorts, here it is:

  1. Is there a common focus? I only partner with people in my industry. I feel venturing too far out of my core industry is a waste of time.
  2. Is there sharing both ways? Partnership is a two-way street. If one party is asking, but not giving, it is not a partnership. Like all relationships, trust is developed over time. It may take a month or more of calls and meetings to start to gain the trust, but it is doable. Regardless of how fast the week is going, or how many open positions I am trying to fill; I take the time to get to know anyone looking to partner with me. It protects us both in the end.
  3. Do you like them? I know how it sounds but if you partner with someone who does not share your same values, it can really tarnish you and your brand. The simple gut test, the same on used in high school, will serve you well.

I know what you are thinking. “David, partnerships that involve money are much more complex and to be honest, this sounds a little Pollyanna.” I understand. Not every partnership works out. Working well together takes more than a list of three “to-do” items. What I am hoping to do with this post it to get you thinking about partnership, and their possible benefits to you and you firm. This list is a place to start, a way to take the first steps to working with each other.

My last thought about partnerships is this. You cannot place everyone, you cannot know everything, and you can meet everyone. Partnership is a way to expand into a large world, while making money along the way.