Have you watched the Queen’s Gambit (currently streaming on Netflix) yet? I highly recommend it. It’s entertaining and makes chess look far less geeky than how I viewed it when my brother was the school champion. There are also lots of parallels to be drawn with corporate partnerships. The show is named after a chess tactic where a player temporarily sacrifices a pawn to gain control of the centre of the board.
Understanding how to play corporate partnerships is very similar to understanding chess. It’s a complex game, with thousands of possible moves creating lots of opportunities. Why do we bother? Because it’s mentally challenging, requires great skill, and the outcomes are thrilling.
Let’s look at some of the parallels between chess and corporate partnerships:
You need to understand the rules
It takes a while to learn the rules as there are many moving pieces. Let’s think of the black chess pawns as being the common issues that a business faces. The white pawns are all of the things that you can offer in a partnership that might solve these issues. The higher value pieces all have different rules of movement, just as every business has a unique set of issues or ambitions relevant to their industry or their specific business. For example, most retailers want to increase their footfall instore or their web traffic. Are you thinking about what you have to offer and what activations you can create to increase footfall? You can only do this if you have catalogued the amazing pieces of value that you have to offer and understand how they might be a perfect match for that type of partner. Get good at the rules and you’ll be able to understand what you have to offer, and which industries are the best fit for your offering.
Tactics and strategy
Corporate partners can be both tactical and strategic. Tactics are moving the pieces around the board. If you’re moving pieces around the board it seems like you’re playing the game but what good is it doing for the long-term outcome? Strategy is the clear road map about why you are making certain moves. Unless you have an overarching strategy for the game you’re playing, you won’t be as successful as you can be. Do you have a long-term strategy for partnerships? What are you hoping that partnerships will achieve? Sometimes you do have to sacrifice a pawn in order to win a partnership. Or you over service partnerships for a relatively low ROI. This is only worthwhile if the potential is there for you to achieve your overall strategy.
Make it a game
Diamonds are one of the things of great value that come from long sustained pressure. It’s not feasible to be a diamond in corporate partnerships. You’ll burn out. Yes, I understand there are pressures such as KPI’s and targets to meet. How can you reframe those pressures? Everybody loves a game of some sort because they are fun. How can you make corporate partnerships fun? I’d love to suggest that you gamify your job. What are your counter moves if a partnership veers off track? How can you gamify your productivity so that instead of feeling busy and stressed you reframe it to a fun or helpful activity? A key principle for me is not in ‘selling’ but discovering ways in which I can help. What is that you have to offer that will help your charity and that business?
Learn from others
Beth Harmon (main character in The Queen’s Gambit) gets exceptionally good when she starts actively learning by studying the game and gets a trainer/ mentor. How can you accelerate your growth and learning? Have you got a mentor, coach or even a corporate partnership buddy to run your ideas over with? Be a student of learning. Take part in training and webinars to boost your skills and get really good at what you do.
We will be cheering on you and your successes from the sidelines. So, what’s your next move?
When you’re ready here’s how we can help:
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