I have just read Angela Duckworth’s book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. It’s filled with evidence, case studies and stories of how and why talent will only take you so far. As she outlines in the book it is grit – a combination of your determination, effort and skills that can make you truly or phenomenally successful.
I’m getting a lot of good-hearted ribbing from Linda at the moment. She is in awe of my persistence in securing a Pfizer jab and loves telling people about the 186 calls I made one Friday to the vaccine hotline. Yes, that’s 186 calls. It wasn’t even just pressing redial one after another. About every 5th call I would get through to the first recorded message only to fall foul at the 2nd automation. I had the luxury of being able to spend ALL day on the phone. This was nothing to do with talent, it was sheer dogged persistence, in securing something that felt very high stakes to me. As per Angela’s definition on the grit scale in her book – I’m a pretty gritty person. Go figure! I’m guessing that a lot of partnership managers are pretty gritty too.
I’m not saying you need to ring your new prospect 186 times. Don’t! You’ll likely end up with a restraining order! Here’s where I think we could all be a little grittier when it comes to partnerships.
Persistence in following up
That introductory email you sent, that proposal that went cold… did you follow them all up systematically? Every time? Even when you got distracted by that new shiny thing that landed on your desk? We are all human and I’m just as bad as you are. How many potential partnerships are still sitting in your sent mail and could probably do with a follow up to reignite that conversation? We were recently talking to the Community Program Manager of Officeworks and she mentioned that it often took 2 or 3 emails to get her attention before she responded.
Working on your skills
Have you been using the same methodology for quite a while? Newsflash – just as the world has changed rapidly, partnerships have changed just as quickly. Have your skills and expertise kept pace? Have you tweaked your approach and your account management skills to deal with these changes? It can be easy and reassuring to do what you have always done. Its feels awkward to try something new but if you don’t try then you’ll be stuck inside a smaller comfort zone. If you can embrace what feels uncomfortable and keep practising, it will soon feel as tried and as tested as your regular approaches.
Sticking with them
You need to have a systematic approach to avoid the rollercoaster of accidental brilliance and build a consistent and valuable portfolio. Having a systematic approach will give you comfort and positivity when you aren’t seeing immediate results. Partnerships aren’t an overnight success but with passion, grit and perseverance they can transform your organisation and the work you do for your beneficiaries. Some of the best and most valuable partnerships have been nurtured carefully over many years such as Royal Flying Doctors Service and Ergon Energy which is now one of the most long-standing partnerships in Australia. Wouldn’t we all like one of those. I also bet that like every good marriage there have been times when either one has felt like giving up.
Partnerships are worth it, but they take grit and commitment. In the recent JB Were NAB Charitable Giving Index corporate community partnerships were the standout performer… “the level of corporate community investment given by the 50 largest company donors in 2020 grew by 23% despite profits declining by almost 30%”. The prize for perseverance could be big. Are you gritty enough for success?