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Building a Brand through Partners

By: Will Adams



When you’re first starting out as an entrepreneur, you have no brand. You have no customer base. How do you get started so that people can find out who you are, what you do, and what your business stands for?

Depending on what your industry is, one option right at the start might be developing subcontracting relationships. Although your business does not have an established brand identity, there might be other organizations that do. Align yourself with those organizations and you can use their preexisting brand identity to develop your own reputation.

Thanks to the powerful tools of the Internet, it’s easier than ever to look up other businesses and organizations in your area that might be able to partner with you. Find them and reach out to them, sharing who you are and what you’re doing—and whether there is anything you can do for them. Look for people and organizations that are respected in the community and already have a strong reputation. Then, their branding brings credibility to what you are doing, letting people know that you really do good work and are a good value for them.

But, of course, at some point you will want to step back from those relationships and turn the business into entirely your own. Once you are more established, you don’t necessarily have to rely on the more established partner. At that point, it’s critical to develop your own clientele. And to do that, you need to be an effective networker.

When you are at events where you have the opportunity to meet with potential customers, you should make sure the focus is not so much on you, but on the person you are talking to. Don’t start off by talking all about yourself in your business, but start by talking and asking about the other person and what they are doing. That’s how you develop a real relationship, and then eventually they will ask about you and what you’re doing. But it will be natural and real, not forced and artificial.

It’s all about building credibility in you and your business. Strategic partners can lend credibility, and when you demonstrate that you really care about other people and helping them solve problems, that gives you more credibility. When it’s obvious that you’re just trying to sell things, that drives people away. But when you’re delivering value, and demonstrating that value to customers, it will build your brand and help you grow your business.

Published: December 19, 2012

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Will Adams

As the President at Tarkenton, Will works directly with Tarkenton’s partners to identify and understand their organizational needs. He then assembles a cross-functional team to develop and deliver the solutions to meet the needs of the partner. Since joining Tarkenton in 2010, Will has helped develop new partnerships, plan strategic growth initiatives, and mentor organizational leaders. Connect with him on .

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