How does it feel when a good deed goes unrecognised? For me, it’s the small acts of selfishness that really get me fired up. The time when you hold a door open for someone and they stride through without a glance, or you pull over in a narrow road for another car, which sails by without a wave. Even more egregious is when you hold a place in the queue for someone and they return with 20 of their relatives.
We’re coming to that time of year when we give gifts to show people they matter in our lives. The best way to nurture relationships is to show how much you value them. As Brené Brown said, “trust is built in very small moments”, so gestures of appreciation and thanks go a long way to building trust between partners and colleagues. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Your corporate partners
We spoke with a large corporate retailer this year who had to cajole her charity partner into providing a LinkedIn post about their 6-figure partnership. It’s the easiest and cheapest thing to say nice things about your partner on social media. Post a thank you on LinkedIn and tag your network, share their post and add some comments to show how much they are valued. Third party reviews are much more valuable for a corporate than the media releases they prepare themselves. Don’t make them wait and certainly don’t make them ask- especially if it’s a valuable partnership.
Christmas is not the only time for giving. You can surprise and delight your partner at any time of the year. We love the children’s charity who sent framed handprints done by kids in their education programs to their partner as keepsakes. Another charity recorded short video thanks from their CEO and emailed it to their partner’s senior leadership.
The CEO of your corporate partner may be the ultimate decision maker, but you need to get through the gatekeepers first. That might be the EA who makes time in the CEO’s diary, the HR manager who promotes your volunteering opportunities, or the middle management champion who tells you about the next grant round for their corporate foundation. The gatekeepers may not have positional power, but they are very influential. Don’t neglect the little guys when you’re showing appreciation.
I was working in an organisation with a NSW office when the catastrophic floods came through the Northern Rivers and surrounding areas. We knew that our colleagues were struggling to keep programs running whilst dealing with their own personal challenges. So, we recorded a video of our Melbourne office team giving them a round of cheers, applause and supportive messages. That little video did more to break down the state office silos than anything else.
When you celebrate winning a new partnership, did you remember to acknowledge the colleagues that helped you along the way? The programs team that provided specialist insight, the marketing team who did the media or the HR team that organised the teams of volunteers? Success has many friends, so don’t forget to nurture a strong coalition of support for your partnerships. Show them examples of what their support has achieved in partnerships. Even better, get one of your partners to drop into the office for a lunch and learn to tell the story themselves.
Your board members may seem remote, but they are human too. Often, they’re putting their reputation and relationships on the line to introduce you to new partners. Did you give them an update on what worked and what happened? Can you make sure you thanked them for filling 10 tables of paying attendees at your gala event? If you don’t get to see them face to face, then put their names in your next update report. Not only will it make them feel valued, but it will inspire the others to lift their game!
You’ll notice that most of these ideas don’t involve champagne or expensive Cartier watches. As Voltaire said, “Appreciation is a wonderful thing: it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” Show your thanks for your corporate partners, gatekeepers, colleagues and board and see the investment return tenfold.