Communicate!

Successful partnerships require effective communication, starting with clear expectations.

Successful partnerships require effective communication, starting with clear expectations.

By: Sara Urquhart; Photos by: Brooke Dennis and Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit

I can’t overstate the importance of clear communication, and though I’ve written about the topic in the past, I continue to see examples of miscommunication that damage relationships in this space. Simple steps and common sense are key to successful communication and therefore successful projects and partnerships.

Master these four secrets of effective communication and you'll have relationships built on strong foundations.

Master these four secrets of effective communication and you'll have relationships built on strong foundations.

Expectations.

Communicate clearly before the project to share goals and expectations, during the project in order to stay on track and make minor revisions, and after the project is complete. In follow-up conversations, honestly and professionally evaluate what worked and what didn’t.

Follow Up.

If things didn’t go as anticipated on a project, it’s important to follow up and discuss the expectations that weren’t met, even when it may be a difficult conversation. Ask (and answer) what happened and what could have gone better.

If the project was highly successful, there is tremendous value for all project participants in discussing what worked and why. If an influencer works with a brand and the brand is thrilled with the outcome, but doesn’t explain why, the influencer may assume it was for the shout outs she made on IG when it was really the meaningful comments on her blog post that made the brand giddy. Unless you ask the question of “WHY?” you won’t have the information you need to replicate the outcome on a future campaign.

Likewise, if the brand and the influencer think a project was unsuccessful for different reasons, neither will have the information they need to improve performance in future projects. And both parties should treat the relationship as though future projects are a possibility. Never treat a project like it’s the last time you’ll work with a brand or an influencer.

Positivity.

If your best efforts at communicating well don’t yield the results you’d hoped for, always keep things positive. The person you’re working with may be at different company or a different blog a month from now, with a new opportunity that’s perfect for you. If you’re a good player and a strong communicator when things don’t work out, brands and bloggers alike can trust that you’ll be a good player when a new prospect arises. 

Track Record.

When you’ve established good communication, a solid relationship, and some success together, you’ll find room for mistakes when you’re building toward a long-term relationship. If one project isn’t a home run, it’s ok, because you have a successful past and you’re always building toward the next opportunity to work together. This incentivizes both parties to create new ideas for your future partnerships that are unique and innovative.